No, for the following reasons:
The Bible says that all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Such a categorical statement requires exceptions to be mentioned explicitly and the Bible mentions only Jesus as the exception (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 John 3:5, 1 Peter 2:22).
Mary herself implies her own sinfulness when she cites God as being her savior (Luke 1:47). The Catholic explanation for this verse is that Mary was thankful because God prevented her from becoming a sinner. But this explanation is a case of special pleading. All other occurrences of "savior" in the Bible refer to God saving people who are sinners.
Some Catholics say that Mary had to be sinless so that Jesus could be sinless. But if this was so, Mary's mother would also have to be sinless (to ensure Mary's sinlessness). This leads to a regress that takes us all the way to the first mother, Eve. According to the above Catholic argument (applied repetitively), Eve would have to be sinless. This obvious contradiction proves that the Catholic argument is false. Jesus' sinlessness was ensured by his virgin birth
When Mary learned that she was to birth the Messiah, she pointed out that she was a virgin at that time (see Luke 1:34-35). The angel replied that God would work a miracle. Thus, Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived but after she conceived him, she got married (see Matthew 1:24). So she and her husband Joseph obviously had sex and thus Mary was not "perpetually virgin".
Here are some Catholic arguments for Mary's perpetual virginity and my responses:-
The "brothers" of Jesus mentioned in Matthew 13:55 are not literal brothers (though no Catholic denies that the "son" in the same verse is a literal son!). Again, this is special pleading. "Brothers" means "brothers"; if you say it doesn't, the burden of proof lies on you. In fact there were words in Greek for cousins (Luke 1:36), uncles (thios or barbas) and relatives (Mark 6:4). Therefore, the use of "brothers" to mean other relatives amounts to figurative usage. It is unsound exegesis to insist on the figurative meaning of a word when the literal meaning makes sense. John tells us (John 2:17) that Jesus is fulfilling Psalm 69:8-9. But in the Psalm, notice the words "my brethren...my mother's children". The brethren were "real" brothers!
The word "firstborn" (Matthew 1:25) does not imply other children; it only implies the opening of the womb. "Firstborn" does not imply the absence of other children either (Genesis 19:31). Again, special pleading. The only reason we are asked to read "firstborn" as "only born" is because the Catholic doctrine of perpetual virginity requires it!
Real Jewish brothers would never reprove an older brother as Jesus' brothers did (John 7:3-4, Mark 3:21). How did you get perfect knowledge of Jewish society? How do you know that Jesus' brothers would not violate Jewish cultural norms?
Jesus would not have told John to take care of his mother (John 19:26) if he had actual brothers. No. There are many reasons why Jesus might have preferred John to his brothers, not the least being their unbelief (John 7:5)!
The "son of Mary" (Mark 6:3) in Greek actually means "only son of Mary". No it doesn't. The same Greek article that appears in Mark 6:3 appears in Matthew 4:21 to introduce "James the son of Zebedee". We know that he was not the only son (Mark 10:35). The Greek word for only, monon, occurs 66 times in the New Testament, but not in Mark 6:3.
Thus, all these arguments either leave the question open, are factually incorrect, or rely on wrong exegesis. Further, these arguments address the wrong question: "did Mary have other children?" [It is eminently possible for a person to not have children although she's been having sex]
The Bible never says explicitly that Mary had sex. By the same logic, Priscilla and Aquila never had sex with each other (so we have two more perpetual virgins), Joab never ate food, Leah never nursed her children, Solomon never changed his clothes, Baruch is still living today and is about 2600 years old and Saul never used the bathroom. This is an absurd "argument from absence" (See Rule 7 at Bible Interpretation). Eating, nursing one's children and having sex with one's spouse are normal human acts - we take it for granted that people do them. To conclude otherwise we need two things:-
The Bible does not say that Mary abstained from sex with her husband all her life, nor does the Bible (which we know to be a sensible record) give us a reason why she had to remain a virgin for life. Therefore, Mary's perpetual virginity is untenable. You don't prove a doctrine based on absence and hypothesis. The Roman Catholic teaching on Mary is a case of accepting a pagan idea and then looking to scripture to support it after you have failed to prevent people from reading the Bible.
Yes, but there is a fundamental difference between the implications of Protestant and Catholic/Orthodox misdeeds.
John Calvin, a "Protestant", had Michael Servetus killed because his religious views did not match with Calvin's. This, however, does not discredit my faith (or the faith of other Biblical Christians). Why? Because our faith is based on the Bible, not on Calvin, or anyone else. Nowhere does the Bible ask Christians to torture or kill "heretics". This incident does discredit Calvin, though. It proves that his claims of "Sola Scriptura" were lies.
However, when the Pope has sanctioned evil, or the Orthodox clergy and "church fathers" have indulged in evil, it discredits your faith, because, by definition, your faith is based on the Papacy and the "patristic tradition". Both the Papacy and the Orthodox clergy/fathers claim to be custodians and teachers of divine revelation. Because they are evil, the entire system under them (which includes all Catholics and Orthodox) falls.
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."Verse 2 suggests that there are those who "believe in vain". That is, they may have a mental assent to the gospel that is not accompanied by repentance (like the demons, James 2:19). Such people may forget what they've learned, and are not saved. On the other hand, those who truly repent and believe with their heart get the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13,14, Romans 8:9), who witnesses to them (Romans 8:16). Such people will not "forget". Nothing, including human frailty, can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).
The Indian Maratha King Sambhaji was tortured to death by his Muslim captors because he refused to give in to their demand: forsake Hinduism and become a Muslim. This does not prove that Hinduism is true. It only proves that Sambhaji was sincere in his Hindu beliefs. Similarly, a lot of Christians (both true and false) have died as martyrs. We must appreciate their sincerity, but to assume that what they believed is true is wrong.
This argument is wrong because it is based on the faulty premise that "If we all believe the same thing, it must be true". Truth is not determined by the number of people mutually agreeing or disagreeing. Truth is determined by agreement with the Bible. Although a lot is wrong in Protestant denominations, the creeds of most of them agree with at least The Main Message of the Bible, whereas Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy don't. When you stand in judgment before God, He will not look you up in this way: "Catholic or Protestant? Okay, how many denominations within your tradition? There are too many. So I'm going to put you in hell". Where you go depends on whether you have received Jesus Christ for who he claimed to be. By definition, an observant Catholic or Orthodox has not, and neither has a liberal Protestant.
This website rejects "the multiplicity of Protestant denominations" for the same reason that it rejects Catholic/Orthodox dogma: "denominations" do not exist in the Bible and differ from the Biblical pattern of church, which is Local autonomous churches
One final point: while counting "Protestant denominations" please make sure that you are not passing off Catholic/Orthodox nicknames for Biblical Christians as "denominations". For example, "Paulicians" and "Bogomils" are not "denominations". They were just groups of Biblical Christians so nicknamed by their Orthodox persecutors.
Yes, for the following reasons:-
1. Jesus predicted in Matthew 7:21-22 that there will be many who think of themselves as Christians, but will not really be his disciples.
2. The leaven parable of Matthew 13:33 shows that corruption will spread in Christendom until virtually the whole is corrupted. See Example 13 at Bible Interpretation for details.
3. Paul predicted that false teaching would mushroom (Acts 20:29-30). Note that he does not limit the false doctrine to Judaism or Gnosticism. He found to his dismay that even the churches that he founded were quick to turn away from the truth (Galatians 1:6, 3:1).
4. Even in the first century itself, the Lord Jesus found much to criticize in the churches (Revelation 2 and 3). One was so bad that the Lord Jesus wanted to spew it out of his mouth (Revelation 3:16). If this was the state of affairs in the first century, one can only imagine how bad things would be subsequently.
5. In the "mustard tree" parable (Matthew 13:31-32), Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a mustard seed which becomes a large tree in which the birds lodge. Does this not imply that the true church is a large, conspicuous structure such as the Roman Catholic or the Orthodox Church? There is a simple problem with this reasoning. There is no such thing as a mustard tree!! The Israeli mustard is a shrub. In Arabia, there is a similar shrub that grows to a height of about 10 feet - hardly a big tree. Did Jesus have a problem with botany? No, that cannot be. What is he trying to tell us then? Think: in other places in scripture, what do large trees and the birds of the air symbolize? Large trees represent worldly, vainglorious kingdoms and monarchs (Ezekiel 31, Daniel 4:20-23). A large tree is rooted in the earth - something earthly. What do the birds of the air represent? The birds tried to disrupt the covenant between God and Abram (Genesis 15) - a symbol of evil. The birds of the air represent the forces of evil in the parable of the sower. Thus, Jesus is hinting that the kingdom of heaven will be obscured by a monstrous caricature. The "church" will become something that it was never meant to be.
To summarize: The Bible predicts widespread apostasy in so called "Christendom". So when we compare what the Bible says with Liberal Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, we are not surprised.
Peter was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven - thus he could bind and lose things on earth (Matthew 16:19). Note that the kingdom of heaven consists of both tares and wheat (Matthew 13:24-25) unlike the true universal church which only consists of genuine disciples (Ephesians 5:27). The key to the true church is found individually by each person when he puts his faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:11), but Peter unlocked the key to the kingdom of heaven; for the Jews in Acts 2, for the Samaritans in Acts 8, and for the rest of the world in Acts 10. To each category of people, Peter was the first to preach the gospel. It is also worth noting that Peter was never a "Pope" and so no Pope is Peter's successor. Thus, Matthew 16:19 provides no support to the Pope's alleged right to "excommunicate" people out of the universal church.
No. Various contemporaries of Paul weren't exactly very spiritual: Hymenaeus, Alexander, Philetus, etc. Paul even told the Ephesian elders that out of their own circles, false teachers would arise (Acts 20:30). Thus, the antiquity of a person and his connections with apostles are no guarantee that everything he says is of equal importance as scripture, or even right. You may argue that you intend to consult second century church fathers, not second century apostates. But this is just begging the question, because: what separate criterion do you have to identify who are the "true" church fathers and who are the apostates? Further, even if a second century figure is not a heretic, he could still be mistaken about certain things. This is not to slander individuals like Polycarp, Clement and so on. We should respect what they say -if- it tallies with scripture.
In Matthew 18:15-20, the Lord is explaining how to deal with a member of a local church who has wronged another member. If he refuses to listen to the local church oversight, he should be put out of fellowship (Matthew 18:17). Here the Lord Jesus says that the local church has authority to bind and lose (Matthew 18:18 - another similar verse is John 20:23). Thus, individuals cannot rebel against the decision of the local church without facing God's wrath.
My wife and I are quarreling and can't get along. As disciples of Christ, it is our duty to take the matter to our local church leadership. They try to sort it out and give us some instructions, but I don't think their instructions are fair, so I reject them. They respond by telling me I cannot have communion with them. So what do I do? Here are some options:-
According to Matthew 18:18, both the above options are evil, and other Christians are duty bound to not cooperate with me. Notice that the context here is a local church or congregation - not a church hierarchy. Both these verses (Matthew 18:18 and John 20:23) are sometimes used to justify the claims to authority of the Roman Catholic Church. But this is a faulty application. The RCC and the Orthodox Church do not have any God-given authority because they are not Biblical churches. They are hierarchies while Biblical churches are autonomous units.
This statement appears in Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13 and Mark 13:13.
In Matthew 10, Jesus begins by telling his disciples to preach to Israelis only (Matthew 10:5-6) and ends by saying, "You will not have finished the cities of Israel until the Son of man be come" (Matthew 10:23). Thus, Jesus was not referring to the preaching of the gospel today, which is not just to Israelis but to the whole world. What was he referring to? To their immediate preaching assignment (see the parallel passage in Luke 10:17); but the reference to his return implies that he was also talking about the time just before his Second Advent, namely, the Seventieth Week. Similarly, if you look at Matthew 24:15-31 and Mark 13:14-26, you find that the other two occurrences of this statement also refer to the seventieth week (Tribulation).
So, in the context of the Tribulation, what is there to endure and be saved? During the Tribulation, the beast will persecute the Jews/Israelis, forcing them to worship his image, take his mark and acknowledge him as god. In order to not be doomed, it will be necessary to refuse this, even if that means death. Thus, the Jews will have to endure persecution until the end in order to be saved. Jesus was not talking about us Christians today. Paying attention to context is one of the principle rules of Bible Interpretation. No doubt there is an application for us also. Thousands of Biblical Christians down through the centuries have proved the genuineness of their faith by enduring to the end as they were being tortured to death by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Besides, these verses do not lend any support to Catholicism/Orthodoxy because the Catholic/Orthodox teaching is not that people who endure to the end will be saved but rather, people who endure to the end will have no clue whether they are saved. Not even the Pope, who has done a very good job of enduring in his faith, knows where he is going when he dies.
Let God judge the "evangelical Protestants". Your real concern should be: what does the Bible say about Israel and our attitude towards her?
From a religious point of view, Israel is characterized by atheism and rabbinical Judaism. Atheism is foolish (Psalm 14:1) and like Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, rabbinical Judaism consists of "vain traditions" and "commandments of men" (Matthew 15:7) rather than God's word. So we should not support Israel in these things.
Christians should provide moral support and goodwill for Israel's possession of her ancient homeland (this includes defending herself from attacks) because:-
The Bible asks us to love Jews (Romans 9:1-5, Psalm 122:6, etc). Real love shows concern. History has shown that the State of Israel has played a major role in reducing the persecution of Jews that has been raging over the last two millennia culminating in the Nazi holocaust. Jews have a safe haven in Israel, and Israel's diplomatic strength helps the welfare of Jews outside Israel.
The Bible predicts that the Jews would return to Israel and prosper. Therefore, if you oppose it, you are opposing God.
Christians ought to love fairness. If the French have France, and in India, the Marathas have Maharashtra, it is only fair that the Jews have Israel. God allotted the land to the Israelis permanently. The "Palestinians" are Arabs to whom God allotted the "East Bank" (Deuteronomy 2:19, 2:9, 2:5). They have no connection to the Philistines, who died out centuries before Christ. The name "Palestine" was given to the land of Israel in AD 135 by the Romans.The following are some Catholic/Orthodox objections to Israel and my responses.
The only reason Israel was formed and is sustained is because of the West. It is God who fulfills the prophecies He has written in the Bible. The fact that God may use human instruments does not negate this (Esther 4:14, Luke 19:40).
We're not against Jews as such, only against the Modern State of Israel. Then why did the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches harass Jews for centuries? Jews felt a need for a homeland of their own in the 1800s only because they were viciously treated by Catholicism and Orthodoxy in Russia and Europe! And today, apart from a few pockets in the West, Israel is virtually the only place were Jews can adjust themselves, and live in safety and self-respect. So anti-Israel equals anti-Jewish.
Israel is immoral, godless and Christ-rejecting. Isn't the whole world just that? If Christ was not Israeli but Italian, Russian or Greek, etc. would your nation have done better than Israel? Pagans all over the world are immoral, godless and Christ-rejecting. And if you're Catholic or Orthodox, you're rejecting the doctrine of Christ as given in the Bible. Why single out Israel?
Israel is the obstacle to world peace. No. The reason for the lack of peace is that the nations of the world have rejected God and His purposes in the world (Psalm 2, Psalm 83, etc.)
The land belongs to the Palestinians. No. God allotted the land to the Israelis permanently. And this is also borne out by secular history and geography
Israel forcibly expelled the Arabs who were living in the land in 1948. No she didn't. The Arabs fled in response to warnings by the surrounding Arab nations to move out of the way so they could annihilate Israel. Those Arabs who chose to remain in Israel now make up 20% of Israeli population, enjoying rights far greater than Jews ever had in Catholic and Orthodox countries.
God is done for with Israel. All prophecies concerning Israel were fulfilled in the first century. No He isn't and they weren't.
Why would God restore a nation of "Christ killers"? This is like the Muslims who ask: Why would God allow His own Son to be crucified? Well, if I invented a god, he wouldn't do either. We know that God will restore Israel for the same reason that God's people of old knew that He would send His Son to die: He has said that He will! Reality is not determined by your preconceived notions of what it should be like, but by logic and evidence (in this case, Biblical evidence).
The promises for Israel apply to the church. No they don't.
Israel treats the Palestinians unfairly. How would you treat people who claim that you are cannibals, fit to become pigs and apes, and try their best to fulfill their religious duty to murder you? The number of "Palestinians" killed by Israeli Police and Army (because of security reasons) is much less than the number of Jews murdered by the Catholic/Orthodox Church over the centuries because of antisemitic theology. After forcing Jews to live in shtetls and ghettos and wear special badges, forcibly converting them, kidnapping their babies and secretly baptizing them and so on, who are you to pontificate at Israel over its security fences and blockades?
No I'm not. As with any piece of literature, the Bible has self-evident rules about how it is to be interpreted. This includes the question of which passages of the Bible are to be interpreted literally and which figuratively. Suppose you read the following line in a book:
"Carol stood admiring the blue sky...she was on cloud 9 at the prospect of meeting her fiance after so long"
Is there any confusion about which parts are to be taken literally and which figuratively? No, not at all! It was literally a blue sky, not a pink sky or a blue ceiling. But Carol was no cloud climber who had numbered the clouds according to altitude! In the same way, when it comes to the basic teachings of the Bible, there is no confusion about what is literal and what is figurative. The accusation that Biblical Christians are blindly taking the Bible literally is a pathetic smokescreen to hide the fact that Orthodox and Roman Catholic theology is at odds with the Bible. Roman Catholic and Orthodox apologists like to say that they are interpreting the Bible figuratively or "in the light of tradition", but they are bluntly contradicting it.