A. Scripture verses tradition
The very core of catholic verses new Testament Christian theology is irreconcilably different.
Catholicism is ran by human sources. It carries an undefined sacred tradition. It claims authority over the Biblical canon. It claims authority over interpretation. It claims the authority to make new traditions.
The New Testament church is ran by the Bible. The Bible has a fixed canon. Most New Testament Churches understand their regular duty to practice specifically what is taught in scripture.
"Following, then, the holy fathers, we unite in teaching all men." Nicene creed
While I do not necessarily have a problem with teachers of the early church, they are not an absolute source of authority because their teachings were human.
"and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us." Chalcedonian creed
The scriptures themselves clearly condemn subverting scripture to traditions of men.
15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 15:5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to [his] father or [his] mother, [It is] a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 15:6 And honour not his father or his mother, [he shall be free]. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 15:7 [Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me. 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.
The Scriptures are the foundation of our faith.
3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
2 Peter 3:1-2
B. Unsaved orthodoxy
"We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins."
Here we have two major errors in the way of salvation. One is a view of Baptism as the way of salvation; by implication that one must be saved through joining a particular church.
While baptism is a sign of salvation it is not the power of God which brings salvation. This is the Gospel.
1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 1 corinthians 1:17
The question is not which group we associate with but in whom we have believed.
12. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
"He therefore that will be saved is must think thus of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching His godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching His manhood; who, although He is God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the godhead into flesh but by taking of the manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the quick and the dead. At His coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved."Athanasian Creed
Here we see that the creed states that God's judgment is constructed as a works based salvation. It is also stated that one's salvation or damnation depend on whether they believe this along with the rest of the creed.
However the gospel states clearly that no man is sinless or good.
16. And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17. And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19. Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21. Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. 22. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 23. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25. When his disciples heard [it], they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26. But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
10. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13. Their throat [is] an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps [is] under their lips: 14. Whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness: 15. Their feet [are] swift to shed blood: 16. Destruction and misery [are] in their ways: 17. And the way of peace have they not known: 18. There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
The Bible teaches that we are justified god's grace through faith, not of works.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Yet their is only one gospel which is essential to salvation to believe.
7. Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8. 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. 9. 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. 10. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
1. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2. This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Since these writers of the creeds have taught false teachings they are not to be viewed as the measurement for truth.
50:16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or [that] thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 50:17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
C. Historical development
The concept of the trinity was 1st developed by North African pastor Tertulian. He was in opposition to the doctrines of modalism. Tertulian's doctrine was simple and it would be 200 years before The church became catholic and the creed established. Over the centuries the theologians would stretch the doctrine further past Biblical explanation. This culminated in the creed of "athanasius", which was not written by Athanasius. This creed would effect the Western understanding of the trinity for centuries following.
"In the New Testament we do not find the doctrine of the Trinity
in anything like its developed form, not even in the Pauline and Johannine theology, although ample witness is borne to the religious experience from which the doctrine springs. None the less Christ is acknowledged as the eternal Son of God and the supreme revelation of the Father, and the quickening Spirit of life is acknowledged to be derived ' from on high." And so, when the early Christians would describe their conception of God, all the three elements-God, Christ, and the Spirit-enter into the description, and the one God is found to be revealed in a threefold way." (Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings, Trinity, p 458)
"From what has been seen thus far, the impression could arise that the Trinitarian dogma is in the last analysis a late 4th-century invention. In a sense, this is true; but it implies an extremely strict interpretation of the key words Trinitarian and dogma. Triadic Consciousness in the Primitive Revelation. The formulation "one God in three Persons" was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formulation that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective; among the 2d-century Apologists, little more than a focusing of the problem as that of plurality within the unique Godhead. ... From the vocabulary and grammar of the Greek original, the intention of the hagiographer to communicate singleness of essence in three distinct Persons was easily derived. ... If it is clear on one side that the dogma of the Trinity in the stricter sense of the word was a late arrival, product of 3 centuries' reflection and debate, it is just as clear on the opposite side that confession of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-and hence an elemental Trinitarianism-went back to the period of Christian origins." (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1965, Trinity, p299-300)
It is important when critiquing the catholic trinity that we are aware of the major heretical competitors and distinguish the New Testament trinity for their teachings.
gnosticism/adoption) Gnosticism was a pagan religion which fused itself with pagan concepts and therefore it is more like Mormonism with a view point between tri-theism and polytheism with Jesus being adopted into god-hood. This was one of the first identified heresies.
modalism)This view destroys all the distinctions in the Godhead. The idea that the names of the trinity do not represent persons, instead they are descriptions of the same person.
subordinationism) The idea that the Holy Spirit and the Son are the products of God the Father and therefore inferior in their deified nature.
Arianism) The idea, that though the Holy Spirit and the Son are like God they are not full in deity nor are they the same being as the Father. This also lead's to a practical paganism or Unitarianism depending.
All of these teachings are false. The Simple understanding of the trinity is One almighty God with three persons.
So essentially both Catholic and New Testament church models are trinitarian. The catholic model is simply more complex and less biblical.
D. Simple verses complex trinity
We see in the Athanasian Creed an overstatement of equality.
"Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three lords, but one Lord."
Now here the writers of the creed are focused on pounding out the doctrine of the trinity. But as we will see see they focus more on the principles by means of philosophy as opposed to searching the scriptures.
Here we see terms and concepts that are not directly found in the scripture. For instance "incomprehensible". This term has several applications some Biblical some un-biblical. If we were trying to measure the vastness of God that would be incomprehensible. Yet if, define incomprehensible in terms of God being an illogical/irrational concept, then no that is heresy.
Where does the Bible discuss one verses three eternals? Or one verses three incomprehensibilities? This is not the type of discussion for the layperson and yet this is stated by the creed to be essential to the faith for salvation. Therefore the Creed is Hinting at salvation based on clergy. Since the lay person did not have access to the scriptures and would trouble understanding the concepts fully.
While The Nicene creed has a place for relational subordination, the athanasian creed has no such place which can lure one towards modelism.
As in the Athanasian creed "For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal." The Bible doesn't say equality in glory. Instead it has the son and the spirit submitting their glory unto the father.
15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under [him, it is] manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:27-28
E. 3 persons related in submission verses three persons related in subordination.
Now there are different definitions to the word "subordination". Sometimes it is submission; in which case that would be true. Other times it is a rank of inferiority. The persons of the Godhead are equal in terms of power and therefore not subordinate.
Yet one way in which the Son and the Holy Ghost are subordinate is in their office both are tied to their descent into the earthly realm. Therefore in this light they were subordinate to the father since the Father was always reigning "in Heaven".
Both the Logos and the Holy Ghost inseparable to the Godhead therefore they have all the power of God behind them. Yet the scriptures will speak, when relating them together, to the Father as God, Jesus as Lord, and the Holy Spirit as Spirit.
However, the problem with traditional subordination is that the Holy Spirit and Christ appear as if they are different entities. This leads to the conclusion of tri-theism. This easily becomes paganism because the names of gods become synonymous.
Typically the scriptures emphasize the distinction in relation by calling the father-God and the Son-Lord.
4:4 [There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all.
8:6 But to us [there is but] one God, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [are] all things, and we by him.
1 Corinthians 8:6
13:13 \13:14\The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, [be] with you all. Amen. <[The second [epistle] to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, [a city] of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas.]>
2 Corinthians 13:14
F. A Holy God who shares His glory with no one. vrs. A God who shares His glory with Mary
"truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body;
consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood;
in all things like unto us, without sin;
begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood;
one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably;
the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union" Chalcedonian Creed
Here is where we see the deification of Mary first spring up. Chalcedon strong emphasizes the unity of Christ and then declares Mary to be the "mother of God". In fact, they rejected and even treated as heresy the idea of calling Mary the Mother of Christ. This insinuates that Christ would be subordinate to Mary. They try to stop this by saying Mary is mother according to the flesh.
However this doctrine is easy to override for the pagans. Catholics believe in "traducianism", in other words that people inherit their souls from their parents. So the one person Christ inherited His soul from His mother.
So then the person of the logos must have received a portion of his person-hood through Mary, This would imply that Christ is subordinate to Mary. Then Christ submits to His Mother and Mary is superior to the Son. But also remember That Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. So therefore, Mary has superior priority to two persons of the trinity!
While Catholic theologians may argue that they do not interpret the doctrine this way, they use icons and statues to convey this message constantly. Erecting statues of Mary in a glorify state by herself. Crowning these statues and calling her queen of Heaven. O have seen pictures in Vatican city displaying Mary in the fashion of a pagan goddess. Having Mary hang on a crucifix behind Jesus. In Chicago, Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church has a statue of Mary over the ark of God. This would place Mary at the center of God's salvation.
44:25 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. 44:26 Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth. 44:27 Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that [are] in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.
G. The invisible God vs a God of many idols.
Catholicism is monotheistic in terms profession but is polytheistic in terms of practices.
1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him].
The point of God's invisibility is that God is not limited to the imagination. That God could only be perceived through his direct revelation. We only need to enter the Vatican to find images of God. In the Sistine chapel God the Father is depicted as a large naked man. Also the persons of the Godhead have separate depictions making it appear 3 gods.
In the world of paint and iconic imagery God is humiliated. His power is limited to the artist. Even if He is portrayed as powerful it is only there due to the permission of the artist.
This is the great curse of Catholicism. Man has authority over God. How could God ever approved? It has been said that there are priests who practice but no longer have faith in God. I have not met that many priest, but I have met several Catholics who are atheist. They will still practice their religion, but they have no personal faith in God. I met a fella at work who denied the existence of God, the Bible etc. He said he was raised catholic. He was very liberal and secular; as I tried to witness to him he seemed oblivious to any concerns. But then U had an idea, I became very critical of the pope and the papal system, I argue against the efficiency of the sacramental system. All of the sudden his confidence and calm were gone, He started to argue very passionately and act offended. But why would an atheist be so protective of the papacy? The fact is for a lot of people, the RCC is a back up worldview. They may live as heathens, but in case their is judgment they may find shelter in the papacy. I believe the key to this error is the idea that man somehow has authority over God. As long as we break the commandment.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.1 John 5:21
H. What does this mean?
Now I want to be careful in my judgment here. The doctrine of the trinity is essential to salvation. Yet the requirement for this is consistent with childlike faith. In other words, I believe we are required to understand the simple doctrine of the trinity according to our maturity. In general, I accept the premise that most Catholics are trinitarian. The differences, are minor and I assume that God would not judge the laity over this.
Yet there are theological consequences. By minimizing personal distinctions, I believe this provided a background for Thomas Aquinas' Aristotelian philosophy "thomism". This is the main "classical apologetic" approach. Wherein Aquinas argues for the existence of a Unitarian god. He claims that it is rational to argue for a Unitarian God. But that the trinitarian God requires revelation and faith. I believe that the real reason is because the Athanasian version of the trinity provided Catholic theologians a more modelistic view point which made trinitarianism appear irrational. Also Aquinas is borrowing from the writings of Unitarian Greeks and Muslims. The real problem is that this apologetics can never be of evangelistic use to Christians since it can not defend what is uniquely and essentially Christian.
One main issue, is that this serves us notice of the divorce between New Testament Christianity and Roman Catholicism. As shown in previous articles we have a different history, a different salvation, a different canon, a different worship, a different hierarchy, a different Christ and finally a different God. Roman Catholic is a completely Separate religion from New Testament Christianity. Mainline protestantism may have ties with Catholicism but we do not find this in scripture.