SPLIT: Going where I do not want to go? (Part 1)


Two years ago (maybe more recently) I would have argued the RCC was not Christian. Today my wife and I found ourselves defending the RCC in our Sunday School class.

I desperately do not want to be RC, yet when I am honest I know many “unusual” RCC teachings make sense, I am unable to defend Sola Scriptura (I am still trying), and I suspect (I am no historian yet) that the early church didn’t look or believe like an Evangelical one.

A couple of quick questions/requests:

  1. Can someone please provide me with the earliest sources regarding the use of Icons. I believe they were official in one of the first seven counsils (700 something?), but what are their earliest references by the fathers?


SPLIT: Going where I do not want to go? (Part 2)
SPLIT: Going where I do not want to go? (Part 2)
  1. I think the Apostles, of all people in the history of the earth, would be twelve men of one mind and heart. St.James explicitly writes of faith *and *works, so all Apostles were in agreement with that also.
    Of course, as one non-denom said to me once, ‘…James is wrong…’, which would logically mean to a ‘sola scriptura’ guy that the Holy Spirit is wrong or that the NT Scriptures are not inspired, or that more Scripture is as wrong as St.James - but nobody can possibly ever tell what else might be wrong. So people just invent their own religions and so on…:shrug:


Timmy, read Matthew 25 beginning at verse 31. It contains a bunch of “do’s” that Our Savior said is necessary for salvation. Now, who you gonna believe, Him or somebody’s misinterpretation of Paul?


Hi Tim,

I can’t answer your question about Icons but I expect somebody else can.

About faith and grace, you have a very common and distorted view. Catholics who are living their faith don’t view the sacraments as things we must DO. They are points of contact with God, with his love and mercy and grace and forgiveness. Do Evangelicals think of e.g. prayer as something they must DO? You see the point? The few rules about needing the sacraments are there to give a little impetus to Catholics who are slacking off to not fall away from God.

The problem with sola Fide, besides the fact that it is not in the bible (I know you would disagree) and that it was never taught by the Church (can’t disagree there) is that makes a mockery of both God’s grace and man’s nature (man who is made in the image and likeness of God). To say that nobody can get to heaven without faith, but that only a split second of such faith can guarantee one’s place with God for all eternity, is a bizarre distortion of the nature and the magnitude of the choice we are are called by God to make. Sola Fide may apply to deathbed conversions, but it simply doesn’t correspond to the life that the more typical Christian is called to live for the many decades they may call themselves Christian.

But beyond that, what difference does it make? What difference does it make to the life of a Christian if sola Fide is true or not? Will the spiritual life of a fervent Evangelical really be that different than the life of a fervent Catholic? Think about that. Why is it so important to Evangelicals that sola Fide be true? What would be so awful if it weren’t true?


The most important thing to point out is what is meant by Justification by Faith Alone (Sola Fide). Here is a quote from the Protestant (Reformed) Westminster Confession of Faith:I. Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies;not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
(Ch 11-On Justification)
This is the FUNDAMENTAL difference between Catholics and all “classical” Protestants (eg Lutherans, Calvinists, etc), Sola Fide is a RESULT of this fundamental difference.
Here is an example: lets say fallen man is similar to a bank account in debt (that they cant pay). The merits of Jesus Christ are the only way that debt can be paid to satisfy the Manager (God). The differences is simply this, Protestants believe the Manager’s focus is taken OFF of your account and focused onto Christ’s bank account and thus He is satisfied and calls you “debt free” (justified)…Catholics reject this because YOUR OWN account is not actually considered and in effect God is CALLING someone “debt free” who is actually in debt still, that is precisely what the above quote is saying. Catholics believe the funds (grace) in Jesus’ account is applied DIRECTLY to our OWN accounts making us TRULY debt free and thus the Manager is declaring what is in fact a reality.
This is the most fundamental difference between Protestants and Catholics that must be understood.

Now, as it should follow when we sin it is akin to putting ourself back in debt in our bank account, thus we must leave this life with a sufficiently positive balance (“state of grace”) or else the Manager will no longer consider us debt free and we cant be saved. This doesnt make sense in Protestantism because your own account is never considered, rather it is overlooked.

St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is VERY IMPORTANT in regards to this situation because it actually teaches the CATHOLIC understanding of Justification (grace applied directly to our souls, aka “infused grace”), not the Protestant understanding (grace means overlooking your faults and focusing on Christ, aka “imputed grace”).
If you are ready for your life to change, read this short article and I guarantee you will no longer see things the same way again:


Catholic Dude,

Thanks for the replies…

I see justification (sola fide) more as God deducts the money (righteousness) from Christ’s account that I owe. My account is dealt with because Jesus spotted me the “money” and my debt is paid.

St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is VERY IMPORTANT in regards to this situation because it actually teaches the CATHOLIC understanding of Justification (grace applied directly to our souls, aka “infused grace”), not the Protestant understanding (grace means overlooking your faults and focusing on Christ, aka “imputed grace”).

Yet Paul speaks directly referring to our imputed grace:

Romans 4:20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.



Temporarily closed for splitting.


The other question is split off here.
SPLIT: Going where I do not want to go? (Part 2)


Hi Tim,

I have been where you are. You are in my prayers.

  1. The earliest source for icons would probably be scripture.

:bible1: Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?

We see here in scripture that images were used to show how Christ was crucified.


The earliest references are opposed to them:

Clement of Alexandria, writing around the year 200 AD said:

“as Moses ages before enacted expressly, that neither a graven, nor molten, nor molded, nor painted likeness should be made; so that we may not cleave to things of sense, but pass to intellectual objects: for familiarity with the sight disparages the reverence of what is divine; and to worship that which is immaterial by matter, is to dishonor it by sense …Now the images and temples constructed by mechanics are made of inert matter; so that they too are inert, and material, and profane; and if you perfect the art, they partake of mechanical coarseness. Works of art cannot then be sacred and divine…”

Around the year 3oo AD, a prolific Christian author named Lactanius from Africa writes the following about images:

Whoever, therefore, is anxious to observe the obligations to which man is liable, and to maintain a regard for his nature, let him raise himself from the ground, and, with mind lifted up, let him direct his eyes to heaven: let him not seek God under his feet, nor dig up from his footprints an object of veneration, for whatever lies beneath man must necessarily be inferior to man; but let him seek it aloft, let him seek it in the highest place: for nothing can be greater than man, except that which is above man. But God is greater than man: therefore He is above, and not below; nor is He to be sought in the lowest, but rather in the highest region. Wherefore it is undoubted that there is no religion wherever there is an image. For if religion consists of divine things, and there is nothing divine except in heavenly things; it follows that images are without religion, because there can be nothing heavenly in that which is made from the earth.”

Perhaps the best example comes from Letter 51, as quoted from Jerome, From Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, in Cyprus, to John, Bishop of Jerusalem. This letter originates around the year 400 AD. Epiphanius, a bishop, wrote about how he ripped an “icon” of a wall and why:

When I accompanied you to the holy place called Bethel, there to join you in celebrating the Collect, after the use of the Church, I came to a villa called Anablatha and, as I was passing, saw a lamp burning there. Asking what place it was, and learning it to be a church, I went in to pray, and found there a curtain hanging on the doors of the said church, dyed and embroidered. It bore an image either of Christ or of one of the saints; I do not rightly remember whose the image was. Seeing this, and being loth that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ’s church contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, I tore it asunder and advised the custodians of the place to use it as a winding sheet for some poor person. They, however, murmured, and said that if I made up my mind to tear it, it was only fair that I should give them another curtain in its place. As soon as I heard this, I promised that I would give one, and said that I would send it at once. Since then there has been some little delay, due to the fact that I have been seeking a curtain of the best quality to give to them instead of the former one, and thought it right to send to Cyprus for one. I have now sent the best that I could find, and I beg that you will order the presbyter of the place to take the curtain which I have sent from the hands of the Reader, and that you will afterwards give directions that curtains of the other sort — opposed as they are to our religion — shall not be hung up in any church of Christ. A than of our uprightness should be careful to remove an occasion of offense unworthy alike of the Church of Christ and of those Christians who are committed to your charge.”


Origen, in the 3rd century writes the following

Origen writes the following in Against Celsus:

But Christians and Jews have regard to this command, “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve Him alone;” and this other, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me: thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them;” and again, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” It is in consideration of these and many other such commands, that they not only avoid temples, altars, and images, but are ready to suffer death when it is necessary, rather than debase by any such impiety the conception which they have of the Most High God….we may reply that it is easy to know that God and the Only-begotten Son of God, and those whom God has honored with the title of God, and who partake of His divine nature, are very different from all the gods of the nations which are demons; but it is not possible at the same time to know God and to address prayers to images.

I have several more and include them in my book. Look real deep. Catholics claim the early church was Catholic and except for the role of multiple presbyters and bishops, as oppsed to the monarchial bishop system, a belief in the assumption of Mary, the Immaculate Conception being nonexistent, no evidence of a Papacy, and a church opposed to the veneration of images…it looks exactly like the Catholic Church…:wink:


Jesus gives us a parable of the Kingdom of God (the church) being likened to a mustard seed, which when fully grown is a large shrub, or a small tree with all the birds nesting in its branches.

The early church was that mustard seed, and it grew into the tree.
You wouldn’t recognize that mustard seed as being the tree, but it is the same thing.

Just as the early church was started from a small and humble beginning, it grew into what we see today.

As for the other Traditions you mentioned.
Patrick Madrid likens the development of Tradition to a chair in a dark room.
As the dawn light starts to lighten the room, at first you can make out that the item is a chair, then you can make out more of its shape, then that it has fabric, and then its color.

But it is still the same chair that was always in the room.

When the Church spoke in it councils on the dogma’s, it wasn’t inventing things, it was more clearly explaining what was handed down from the Apostles, when they were challenged by heresy.
Just like the Trinity was more fully explained in councils many hundred years later, it was not something the Church invented as the JW’s would like us to believe. The same is with the rest of the Dogma’s and Traditions. They were not written about before, because for one, the Church was being persecuted at first, and second these things were not an issue at the time that had to be addressed.


Following Brians lead here’s another from Clements stromata…

Clement of Alexandria
"the law itself exhibits justice, and teaches wisdom, by abstinence from sensible images" - Clement of Alexandria (The Stromata, 2:18)


The early Christian church wrote about everything under the sun. The early church was not neutral about veneration of images, they were opposed to it. Scholars know it, people who read the Ante-Nicene Fathers know it, and it was not a mustard seed. It was a strongly held conviction


I strongly urge you to read the Octavius of Minucius Felix it’s a recounting of a debate that occurred between a Christian, Octavius, and a non-Christian, Caecilius.
The moderator of the debate, Minucius Felix, tells us that the debate began as he, Octavius, and Caecilius were walking together along a seashore. As they passed an image along the way:
You can find it at ccel.org


Yes, this is a wonderful example, due to the length, I did not quote.


The Church has always had its puritans, but made a decision rather early on that the arts–sculpture, icons, engravings, paintings, did not violate the first commandment.

The Church had every right to make that decision, and I’m glad she did. Western civilization and religious art would have been much poorer had we gone the other way.

In 726, the Eastern Emperor, influenced by Islam, monophysites, and others opposed to images, banned their use, but it required the military to enforce it. When troops tried to remove a famous icon of Christ from the gates of Constantinople, there were popular riots, and the patriarch of the city was executed for his opposition to the edict. The story is told in H.W. Crocker’s book Triumph.



The Black Madonna is thought to have been painted by St. Luke himself. This is not just pious opinion; serious art historians believe this.

The catacombs also have many paintings in the places where the first Christians worshipped, that date back to the lifetime of the Apostles and early Fathers.


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