Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Thursday, September 07, 2006

RCC and SDA Confusion

I hate to have to deal so much with the Roman Catholic Church but since it plays such an important role in SDA theology and Eschatology we have to deal with the frequent SDA distortions of that church. The church has a terrible history and many doctrines I think are harmful to the cause of God. However it is still a Christian organization and if anyone wants to be taken seriously when talking about it they should take the time to know the real teachings instead of using half truths.

Kenneth Hart summarizes some of the historical distortions that SDA’s often use in their attempt to shore up their faulty view of Daniel 8 and the little horn. The point of the following is not to show that the Roman Catholic Church is correct in any of the following doctrines because doctrines are so interrelated with foundational presuppositions one cannot dismiss them with inaccurate generalizations. To understand them you have to spend the time to understand the process that generated such beliefs. If one desires to indict a belief one must accurately portray that belief or the indictment is merely a gratuitous assertion.

Kenneth Hart’s handout reads:

13. But how did the little horn in its papal form accomplish all the things we have been talking about–even casting down the sanctuary? In what way did he do away with the daily priestly ministry of the new covenant and thus attempt to replace Christ as our heavenly priest?

Historically we know that:

1) Through the establishment of the confessional, through the mass, and through the intercession carried out by human priests the Roman Catholic Church has in a sense replaced the need for Jesus Christ to the individual believer. Individual believers are taught to go to priests instead of going directly to Christ. (Hebrews 4:16)

Notice he says “in a sense” to try and make the impression that the RCC replaces Christ. This works with many Adventists because they don’t know anything about the RCC except the propaganda that the SDA church gives them. They could look up what the RCC really believes but they don’t bother to. For instance in this case the Catechism says:

2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners. He is "able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

2) In the Roman Catholic Mass, the priest claims to change the bread and wine into

the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. In effect he’s claiming the power to create God.

Again the assertion is incorrect as their belief is not that they are creating God but that God is becoming present at the sacrament by the power of God. The Catechism states:

1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:

It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.

And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:

Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. . . . Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.

3) Through an elaborate system of saints and priests, human beings are asked to repent of their sins to human beings instead of to God directly.

Once again as in point 1 there is little understanding of the nature of the confessional system.

1484 "Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession." There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: "My son, your sins are forgiven." He is the physician tending each one of the sick who need him to cure them. He raises them up and reintegrates them into fraternal communion. Personal confession is thus the form most expressive of reconciliation with God and with the Church.

1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:

Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear "man" - this is what God has made; when you hear "sinner" - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made. . . . When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.

4) Numerous false doctrines were established to take the place of major teachings from the Bible: the Sunday-Sabbath, immortality of the soul, the worship of Mary, human intercession, purgatory, even the establishment of church tradition on equality or even superiority to the teachings of scripture themselves, thus trampling down biblical truth.

History shows us that Sunday held a special place in the early church well before there was a Roman Catholic Church. This is also true for the idea of immortality of the Soul. Often when the early church writes of the martyrs they make comments which clearly indicate they believed they were going to be with God and that those who worked against God would be condemned to a horrible existence. The early years of Christianity were filled with a wide variety of views, many of these views were accepted by the Roman Catholic Church without Biblical authority and in fact many of these views were accepted into the Adventist church without Biblical authority. Examples of some Adventist views: Arianism or Semi-Arianism was a common belief among many early Adventists. The Trinity is not clearly a Biblical view and in fact many contemporary Adventists have taken the Trinity into the realm of Tritheism. We already went over the confessional which Hart calls “human intercession” but what about the Adventist view that the final generation lives without an Intercessor.

The RCC does not worship Mary however, the catechism states:

971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration." The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Purgatory is a week doctrine but then so is the Adventist expectation of the coming Sunday laws. And unfortunately Adventist hold just as tightly to their Adventist traditions as the RCC does to their traditions. But then again we owe to the traditions of the Early Church our canon of scriptures. So we can’t just ignore tradition but we have to analyze what tradition says and deal with both traditions as well as reasoned application of the Bible. Clearly however the RCC do not think they are trampling Biblical truth. However they very likely do, and the same can probably be said for every other Christian denomination and very likely every Christian believer at some time tramples Biblical truth. We error when we take our beliefs as the standard to judge other denominations however.

5) Through all of these means the church has come to claim that it is the sole power able to administer and give salvation. This exalts the human priesthood and particularly the papal authority in the place of God himself. Thus the Roman Catholic Church has attempted to replace the major doctrines of scripture with human substitutes.

This is simply incorrect, while this idea has recently been used by people like Clifford Goldstein we have already seen that he arrives at this position from misquoting out of context passages from the catechism. The Catechism states:

169 Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation." Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith.

One of the other items that is frequently mentioned in SDA circles is that
RCC worships idols. For a discussion of this see the
Holy Spirit Interactive Youth, Do Catholics Worship Idols?


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