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Chapter 34

Pius IX — Part 2

 

Pius’ assertion of Papal Infallibility was inherent in his launching pad, the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Pius had not sought episcopal approbation for this dogma as he later did for the Dogma of Papal Infallibility. Issued on December 8, 1854, this dogma has been seen as providing "a close link in the minds of modern popes between Mary and papal authority" (John Cornforth, p. 273). The very fact that the pope issued this Dogma without approval of the general body of bishops, was in itself an act of Papal authority which, while it did not go entirely unchallenged, did, in fact, receive approval of a passive type by the great majority of the episcopate. In this the bishops diminished the ancient authority of their episcopal roles, no matter how much they agreed with the dogma itself. There was a principle at stake.

Enshrining this dogma in the highest level of Papal communication, a Papal Bull entitled Ineffabilis Deus, the dogma stated,

The Doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first instant of her conception, was, by a most singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the human race, preserved from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God, and therefore to be firmly and steadfastly believed by all the faithful.

While the pope appointed a commission to examine this dogma before it was proclaimed, it was a commission of his own choosing.

It was stated that this was a doctrine that the church had always believed and was based on Scripture and tradition—tradition, yes, but Scripture, most definitely not! Roman Catholics point to the gospel of Luke for their support.

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1:28)

Here is no warrant whatsoever for an immaculate conception of Mary. Also the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 is often quoted. As in other passages of Scripture the symbol of the woman, which Scripture plainly asserts refers to the church, is mistaken by the pope to refer to Mary. In any case it contains no mandate to believe in anyone’s immaculate conception.

This doctrine is not found in Scripture! For a very good reason, the concept of original sin was not brought to prominence until Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, proclaimed it in the fifth century. This doctrine arose out of his own experience as he rationalized his failure to keep his vows of chastity. Bishop Augustine was also greatly influenced by his father’s pagan faith of Manichaeism, which was a licentious religion originating in Persia. In his despair as he looked at his own inability to reach the standard of Christian character, he appeared to overlook the power God provides to the penitent sinner to bring salvation and power to overcome sin and temptation.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 24)

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)

These, and other mighty promises of our God, will be fulfilled as we seek Him in prayer, claiming the promises. Augustine appeared to try to achieve God’s standard in his own effort, and failed as do all who rely upon self rather than God.

Thus he turned to the pagan concept of original sin. Because of Adam’s sin, he contended, we are sinners from the moment of our conception. Scripture makes no such statement. Indeed it states plainly that no ancestral sin, be it Adam’s or that of any other progenitor, is held on account against a descendant by our just and holy God. Indeed, God poses this very question to us. Read this passage carefully.

[A son] that hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live. As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity. Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 18:17—19)

In words that cannot be doubted God states his dealing with man. We bear our own responsibility for sin.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20)

Original sin sets before us an unjust deity who cruelly condemns the innocent child to eternal punishment for the sin of his far removed ancestor in which he had no part, unless, as Augustine, once more turning to pagan notions, asserted—original sin be removed by the act of baptism. This led to the popularization of the unscriptural infant baptism to prevent infants from the condemnation of eternal punishment for Adam’s sin, should they die unbaptized.

We rejoice in the beautiful, encouraging gospel message full of hope which our God of love inspired the prophet to pen.

But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live ? (Ezekiel 18:21—23)

Augustine’s concept of original sin, soon to be embraced by pontiffs and laity alike, led to numerous logical but unbiblical concepts.

The Bible provides but one definition of sin:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)

All other definitions of sin in Scripture such as "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23) are simply variations or extensions of 1 John 3:4. Sin is personal. It is not ancestral. Some cite the appalling New International Version (NIV) of King David’s plaintive plea in his sorrow for his sin, as evidence of original sin.

Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5 NIV)

This is a blatant case of translators mistranslating in order to validate their own unscriptural concepts. In our book Modern Bible Translations Unmasked (Hartland Publications, Rapidan Virginia 22733) we show that the translators of the NIV admit that their translation was at times based on doctrine rather than the Hebrew or Greek text. Psalm 51:5 is correctly translated in the King James Version:

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5 KJV)

Here we see that we are born with fallen natures which make it easier for us to fall into temptation than it was for Adam before his fall, but that nature is not sin. Sin involves volition—we must knowingly transgress God’s law.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (James 4:17, emphasis added)

Christ Himself, referring to spiritual blindness, stated quite categorically,

If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see, therefore your sin remaineth. (John 9:41)

It is only when we "see"—have knowledge and understanding of God’s will and digress His commandments consciously—that we are held guilty; albeit sins done in ignorance are no less damaging to ourselves, to others, and to our world. A newborn child is "blind" for he knows nothing of God’s will. Such, this Scripture plainly states, has no sin. Christ’s words thus specifically destroy any idea of original sin.

The Bible states clearly that Christ came to this world with a deteriorated human genetic nature so that He could be our Example in overcoming sin in the Holy Spirit’s power. Listen, and measure the implications of Scripture:

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. (Romans 1:3)

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. (Romans 8:3)

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Galatians 4:4, 5)

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. (Hebrews 2:14)

For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:16)

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:14, 15)

Yet Christ’s character, in contrast to His genetic inheritance from Mary, was ever perfect. So it may be with us when we, moment by moment, trust in Christ and hold His hand. If Christ had not taken a fallen nature He could never have died for the sins of the world, for no being with an unfallen nature has ever died. Our salvation through His death on Calvary was dependent upon this condescension. (Reread Hebrews 2:14 in powerful confirmation.) Yet in Him was no sin, for despite His weakened genetic nature, He, using the same power available to us—the power of the Holy Spirit—transgressed no law of God.

Thus the concept that Mary was born without original sin is correct in the sense that no human has ever been born with original sin. But the doctrine which states that she never sinned despoils Scripture which directly states, allowing no exception apart from our Savior,

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

We would be wise to consider the salient feature of the antichrist, as recorded in John’s epistles, in order to see that Antichrist would deny that Christ came in the flesh. Now the Roman Catholic Church has never denied that Christ was human. It denies, however, that Christ possessed a fallen genetic nature, while ever possessing a perfect character. We repeat John’s passages on this matter.

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:2, 3)

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti-christ. (2 John 7)

This identifying feature of the antichrist is specific. Yet many Protestants today, ignoring Scripture, are in accord with Roman Catholics in denying that Christ came in genuine human flesh, for they claim Him to have possessed the human genetic nature of Adam before his fall. Thus they implicity deny Christ to be our Example, holding that He possessed a distinct advantage over us in the battle against temptation. So often this false view is used as an excuse for sin.

 


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