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On Roman Catholicism: When Is Too Much Not Enough?
An Open Letter – by Robert M. Zins
The following original piece was written especially for the Proclamation by Rob Zins, director of A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism. Rob is a graduate of Alma College, BA; Springfield College, M.Ed.; and Dallas Theological Seminary, Th.M. He has published numerous articles on the Roman Catholic religion, and is author of a new book en-titled Romanism – The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, ©1994-95 White Horse Publications. Rob and his wife Nancy have three children. He may be contacted at PO Box 6409 Rutland VT 05702.
Dear Roman Catholic Friends:
There are many instances when too much of some-thing falls far short of achieving its intended outcome. In running, for instance, too much training actually breaks down the body and eventually lowers the performance capability of the runner. In effect, “too much” becomes “not enough” to help the runner achieve maximum execution. In cooking, “too many” chefs can become “not enough” when it comes to the desired effect of producing a good bowl of soup!
What’s This Have To Do With Religion?
In the realm of theology there are illustrations of “too much” being “not enough”. Paul says in I Corinthians that he would rather speak five words with his mind, in the church, than ten thousand words in a tongue. The apostle realized that “too much” was “not enough” to accomplish his intended goal.
In the book of Galatians, the apostle was extremely agitated by Judaizers who wished to add something to the gospel of Christ. Paul was vexed that the churches of Galatia were troubled by those trying to include “too much” in the gospel formula, so that the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice was compromised. Paul knew that there was a danger of “too much” being “not enough” to satisfy the essence of the gospel message.
In Acts 15:5, we are informed that a sect of the Pharisees was promoting the necessity of circumcision and keeping the law of Moses. The apostles concluded that adding Moses to the gospel was in reality “too much”. They knew that this would become “not enough” in proclaiming the full pardon of punishment due sin, and freedom from the law found in the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Addition Equals Subtraction!
There are many religions today which bring before God their own peculiar ideas of worship and faith. However, the one thing all man-made religions have in common is that they are guilty of the “too much”-is -“not enough” error. As with the Judaizers of the first century, there are many religions that have an affinity with Christianity but fall short of it by adding “too much” to it. We believe that Roman Catholicism is such a religion.
It is not that you fail to believe in God or Jesus Christ. It is not that you lack zeal and heartfelt faith in the Bible. So, what is the problem? The problem is that you add “too much”, and thus your gospel is “not enough” to achieve the goal of being considered true Christianity.
Keep It Simple
The simple message of repentance and faith in the finished work of Christ for forgiveness of all sins and all penalties due to sins is completely obliterated by the “too much” of your religion. Consider that the apostle Paul became unglued over the inclusion of circumcision, a time-honored ordinance that predated the Mosaic law, in the gospel formula. What would he have thought of baptismal regeneration, confirmation, confession to a priest, penance, eating a literal Jesus at the Lord’s table, a representation of Christ’s death in a bloodless sacrifice, papal infallibility, worship and adoration of Mary, purgatory, condign and congruent merit, rosary beads, scapulars, holy shrines, holy water, feast days and fasts, robes and rituals, incense and indulgences, ablutions and absolutions? Not to mention lent and limbo, extreme unction and encyclicals, presumption and perpetual virginity!
From acts of contrition to venial sin, you have perhaps the greatest religious illustration of when “too much” is “not enough”. There are, indeed, many ways to ruin the gospel of Christ. The most popular, by far (as with the runner who runs too much, and the soup with too many cooks), is to add so much that it becomes “not enough” to qualify. Your religion’s “too much” obliterates the very thing it seeks to establish. When weighed in the balance, this “too much” will always be “not enough”.
For Further Reference
Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification, ©1995 Baker Books, R.C. Sproul, 225pp. May be ordered via Ligonier Ministries at 1-800-435-4343.