Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Belt of the Mother of God

I spent quite a bit of time in Europe, traveling. I wasn't saved then. I visited many churches, chapels, and cathedrals in Italy and France. One thing that always puzzled me was the veneration of relics.

Holy relics are defined by Wikipedia as something that "in religion, is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a tangible memorial. Relics are an important aspect of some forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Shamanism, and many other religions. The word relic comes from the Latin reliquiae, meaning "remains" or "something left behind" (the same root as relinquish). A reliquary is a shrine that houses one or more religious relics."

Part of a body of a saint. I can't tell you how many times, in Catholic churches in some small Tuscan town, in a jar of liquid at the altar there would be a shriveled finger or a gray toe from some supposed saint. Ew.

According to Catholic, Greek, and other traditions, the mother of Jesus was a virgin all her life. This, despite the teaching of the bible that Joseph 'knew her not' until after Jesus was born, indicating that they did have marital relations. "Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS." (Matthew 1:24-25, emphasis mine)

This indication is supported by the fact that the bible further says that Jesus had brothers and sisters, and they are even named.

"Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?" (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). And again in Matthew 13:54-58 where his brothers are mentioned and named and his sisters mentioned too.

Well, Catholics and the Greek Orthodox believe that Mary was ever a virgin. Here is a prayer from the a pastor of a Greek Orthodox church related to Mary worship:
"O EVER-VIRGIN Theotokos, shelter of mankind, thou hast bestowed upon thy people a mighty investure, even thine immaculate body's raiment and sash, which by thy seedless childbirth have remained incorrupt; for in thee nature and time are made new. Wherefore, we implore thee to grant peace to the world, and great mercy to our souls.* THE MOST VENERABLE and full of grace Belt of our Blessed Virgin Mary, which is found at the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi in Agios Oros (Holy Mt. Athos), is the only precious souvenir that survives from her earthly life."

Theotokos is the Greek title they give Mary. Appealing to Mary to bestow peace on the world usurps Jesus' place as the identified Prince of Peace. (Isa 9:6). Imploring her to give mercy usurps Jesus as the only giver of mercy: "To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him." (Daniel 9:9). The prayer mentioned Holy Mt. Athos, that is the church that houses her belt. You heard me. Her belt.

It's bad enough that millions worship Mary in place of Jesus. But for those same many millions, they also worship her belt as a holy relic, the belt itself able to perform miracles and wonders. Mary worship is idol worship. Mary's holy belt is idol worship. The bible says not to do that. It commands us not to do that.

Exodus 20:4-5 -- "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;"

Here is the story of Mary's belt.

Supposedly, when Mary died, Thomas missed the funeral. He came hurrying back, only to find her tomb empty. He searched for her and found the place where she was ascending to heaven. He called out, and Mary either descended on a little detour, or while on her way up, took off her belt and cast it to Thomas.

Today, people pray to the belt and ask it to bless them with children. Here is a video of the displaying of the belt. It is held in a church in Prato, Italy, and taken out and shown 5 times per year.


Now, the folks at Prato, Italy say that they have the entire belt, and the folks at Athos, Greece say they have the entire belt, which makes a dilemma. But nevertheless, throngs at both places clamor to see it at the duly appointed times per year it is taken out of its reliquary and shown to the people. The explanation from the Greek Orthodox pastor concludes: "...the Church attributes it honorary worship, as it does to the Holy Wood of the Cross of the Lord. The Holy Belt has the unique grace to cure women's sterility as well as cancer patients, with a ribbon that has firstly been blessed on the Belt and is subsequently worn by the sterile women and patients."

So why this explanation about Mary's Belt? Because it is on the move. It is entering Russia and everyone is very excited about the belt's appearance for the first time in that country.

"Putin welcomes Greek 'fertility-boosting' relic to Russia"
"Vladimir Putin on Thursday welcomed to Russia a highly revered Orthodox relic credited with fertility-boosting powers as his country struggles to halt a population decline. The relic venerated by believers as the belt of the Virgin Mary arrived on loan from violence-hit Greece in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg where hundreds, mostly women, waited patiently to pay their respects. ... Monks from the Vatopedi monastery accompanying the (relic) showed Vladimir Putin the reliquary containing the belt," the Russian government said in a statement. Arriving in Russia for the first time from its home on Mount Athos in Greece, the relic, whose full name is the Belt of the Mother of God, will remain in Russia's former imperial capital until Monday. Hundreds of people, mostly women, were standing in line in Russia's second city, also Putin's hometown, to see one of the most treasured Orthodox relics, which is believed to have miraculous powers to boost fertility."

The Voice of Russia says simply: "Mother of God's belt comes to Russia"
"Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has met a delegation of Greek monks in an airport in St. Petersburg. The delegation brought a belt which is believed to have belonged to Mary, the Mother of God, to Russia for worshiping. It is the first time that this relic is brought to Russia."

It was stated several times that the object is brought so they could worship it and so they could ask it to perform miracles of fertility. That makes it an idol and them idol worshiping idolaters. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has a piece on Mary-worship here.

There is only one true God. There is only one intercessor between God and man. There is only one who bestows mercy There is one who covers the whole world with protection. It is Jesus. Not Mary.

If you watched the video above of the priests marching around the Prato square and the priest lifting up the belt to the people, you likely saw how ridiculous the spectacle was. It was ridiculous because God said not to worship anything other than Himself. And yet they hold up this garment and follow it. It is a direct rip-off of the biblical incident described in Mark 5:25-30:

"And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering."

Jesus later explains to the woman that it was her faith that made her well. It was not the garment. (v. 34)

Is it any wonder, then, that the world mocks us as ridiculous people? Isn't worshiping anything aside from the one true God blasphemous, too? I'm not down on Catholics or Greek orthodox. I'm UP on Ten Commandments and the One True God.

15 comments:

  1. The Mary that the Catholics worship, and that they do, is not the same Mary that gave birth to the Son of God. It is the Pagan goddess Astoreth or Asherah, or lady liberty or any other satanic female manifestation dressed up in drag.

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  2. Agreed. In the Know Your Enemy video series, exploring the new world order from a biblical perspective, the link from Babylon's Semiramis and Mary the Queen of Heaven is explored

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=221sYyagu2I

    (I think that is the link, they did several clips on Catholicism)

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  3. Wow! I can't believe I never heard of this before; I have been studying Mariology for years and never came across anything about her belt. Thanks for this great bit of info, demonstrating again that Romanism is not of God.

    By the way, I did an article about the Catholic Mary not being the Mary of the Bible:

    http://watchmansbagpipes.blogspot.com/2010/06/mary-mother-of-church-is-not-mary-of.html

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  4. Hi Glenn,

    I was astounded also when I read of this last night. I had been searching for Putin and Russia and found the latest news: Putin welcomes Mary's belt to Russia! SO I researched Mary's belt and found more than I really wanted to know.

    Your article you linked above is very good, thank you for your clear teaching on the falsity of Roman Catholicism's incorrect exaltation of human Mary to spiritual equal with Jesus.

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  5. So, this is not a joke.

    I just don't get it. The reverence for Mary and the faith they have in the mother of God, why is it more than what they have for GOD HIMSELF. IT MAKES NO SENSE. I have wondered about so many things about Catholicism since I was a child but never expressed them because I had so many friends who were Catholics. The more I learned about it (and especially the actions and words of the last few popes), the less it made sense.

    And now this.

    I never thought to pray for Catholics in particular but I will start now. I know there are many that are born again Christians but at the same time, there seem to be much more that have been seriously deceived and believe they are right with God based on works formulated and mandated by men. It's sobering just thinking about how many are so deceived.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing that video also! I can't wait to watch it!

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  6. Wow, this makes my eyes sting with tears.... :(

    It makes me think of my grandmother, who was so jazzed about a statue of Mary who was 'crying' coming to her church. It's just so sad! Are any of them reading their Bibles? How can this pass by unnoticed, and after all these years....

    Yes, we MUST be praying for the Catholics, as well as for those who mix Jesus with any other kind of worship.

    -Emily, www.extendingeagerhands.blogspot.com

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  7. Wow, cannot believe the ignorance here. I am Catholic born and raised and I challenge you to find me ONE article of the Catholic faith that says Mary is to be worshipped??? We do NOT worship Mary. We honor her as the only woman since Eve to be born without sin. We honor her in the same way that the angel Gabriel did in Luke 1:28 "And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."

    Now if the angels whom, I think we can all agree are holier than man, are giving homage to Mary, maybe we should HONOR her too?

    Then Luke continues later with Mary saying to Elizabeth, in 1:48 "Because He hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall CALL ME BLESSED." (capitalization is mine, obviously)

    She is the BLESSED virgin, not the almighty, or omnipotent, or lord, etc. Catholics do not worship her!! We follow the dictates of the bible, by honoring her as the mother of Jesus.
    Not to mention that she is part of God's plan as far back as Genesis (3:15): "I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel." Sounds kinda like Mary will at least play a minor role in Satan's defeat?

    And as far as the prayers, relics, the Rosary, etc. we do not worship, only ask for her intercession in matters of the Lord. Not that He would refuse our request, but only that He may more readily listen to a request from his mother, someone much more worthy and holier than us. How many times have we met resistance with a person and asked a friend/relative to speak to them for us? And there is PROOF in the bible of Jesus harkening to Mary's request. At the wedding in Cana, when she mentions that they are running out of wine, Jesus answers "And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come." John 2:1-10. Jesus is clearly stating that his appointed time to begin his outward ministry is not at hand, yet at her request, he performs the miracle of the water and wine.

    And if biblical evidence doesnt do it for you, just think: Jesus was all God and all man simultaneously, yes? We can agree on that? Well, I'm not sure about you, but I wouldn't have much time for anyone that didn't give my mother the proper care and respect that she deserves. Jesus was a far better "man", the perfect "man," and every good man loves his momma.

    It might be better in the future if you all studied the facts of the Catholic faith before you just begin repeating these centuries old and already dispproved falsehoods.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I can provide biblical evidence, but remember the Catholics include tradition as just as binding and authoritative as the bible, that is why it is a false religion.

      1. Catholics call Mary the Queen of Heaven. There is no royalty in heaven except God.
      2. Catholics lift up objects of worship like her belt as worthy of reverence, the point of this article
      3. She is a "Saint" and she is prayed to. Or as Catholics try to wriggle out of this one, that they ask her to pray for us. Yet the bible says that in 1 Tim 2:5 that there is no mediator in heaven except Jesus.
      4. She is "venerated" which is the SAME as worship, venerate means revere, or reverence. We are to revere God alone
      5. You said "He may more readily listen to a request from his mother, someone much more worthy and holier than us." This is so not true in several respects. Mary was blessed, but no 'holier' than any of us. She was a fallen sinner who trusted in her Messiah, same as us. Secondly, saying that we have a better shot at getting a prayer answered if we ask Mary to bring it before the throne instead of us bringing it before the throne is blatantly unbiblical. This concept is blatantly unbiblical. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we, believers here on earth, can "approach the throne of grace with confidence." In addition to Jesus being our mediator, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us too. (Romans 8:26-27). With the Jesus and the Spirit already interceding for us before God in heaven, what possible need could there be to have a regular person like Mary interceding for us too? None. But since Catholics equate Mary with extra holiness like you just said, call her royalty as in Queen of Heaven, give her powers to bring prayer, revere her as a saint, pray to her, and worship her garment as a relic, it is obvious that Catholics worship Mary.

      I'm sorry, but there are many aspects of the Catholic religion that have folded in false concepts and unbiblical practices, and continued Mary-worship is one :(

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    2. As an Orthodox Christian can I state that we DO NOT repeat DO NOT repeat DO NOT worship Mary ....She was a Human being . she is venerated because without her consent to bear and give birth to Our Lord Jesus Christ, then Christ would not have been human as well as Divine. She is venerated....but this is not the same as worship. If you guys are going to attack Orthodox Christianity from your standpoint as Protestants who are just a split from Roman Catholicism which is in itself eerily a break away from the original Church founded by Christ, if you ARE going to criticise the teachings of Holy Orthodoxy at least have the intellectual rigour to know accurately about what it is you are attacking .l,

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    3. Hi John,

      "Roman Catholics attempt to "bypass" these clear Scriptural principles by claiming they do not “worship” Mary or saints, but rather that they only "venerate" Mary and the saints. Using a different word does not change the essence of what is being done. A definition of "venerate" is "to regard with respect or reverence." Nowhere in the Bible are we told to revere anyone but God alone." http://www.gotquestions.org/worship-saints-Mary.html

      Catholics:

      --pray to her
      --state she is an intercessor from heaven
      --create statues of her
      --make an idol of her

      Read Vatican Collection Volume 1, Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar documents. General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. New revised edition 1992; Costello publishing company, Northport, New York. 1992 pages 420-421 (par. 65).

      Also,
      Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 722.
      CCC, 491
      CCC, 508

      Ergo...Nice try but no cigar.

      Catholicism is not Christianity, it is a false religion, born of satan and existing in darkness. But Jesus is the Light, and if you repent of your sins and come to Him alone for salvation, He will save you

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  8. As an Orthodox Christian, I think the misunderstanding that you and your fellow readers about the Mother of God comes from the centuries of being detached from the apostolic Christian tradition and reading from a Protestant translation of the Scriptures, and from being further detached from the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. For instance, even Luther and Calvin acknowledged that the Mother of God was ever-virgin. A selective and individualistic approach to the Scriptures will always result in misunderstanding and sorrow. In this case, not taking into account Mary's own words in the Gospels about how she would be venerated by future generations. As for the Christ having siblings, this is a misunderstanding of that the words in this case are referring to half-siblings. The Church Fathers to whom the New Testament was the mother tongue understood it so. To put the ever-virgin status of the Mother of God to rest, why would the Christ on the Cross give the care of his mother to the Apostle John if he had other natural siblings? Therefore, James the Just, first bishop of Jerusalem and author of the epistle of James was the half-brother of the Lord. A supercilious approach to the Mother of God comes from a culture that finds no value in virginity and from those who name the name of Christ but do not teach the doctrine of virginity and chastity.

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    Replies
    1. Mary said future generations will call her blessed is the same as the Proverbs 31:28 woman, blessed because she has been blessed by God to have a child. TM Moore said of this, "The meaning of this text seems clearly to involve some address of benediction and admiration, not a prayer but, in recognition of the favor of God, a word of adoration and gratitude—a blessing."

      GotQuestions addressed you other items, biblically.

      Mary the mother of Jesus was described by God as “highly favored” (Luke 1:28). The phrase “highly favored” comes from a single Greek word, which essentially means “much grace.” Mary received God’s grace.

      Grace is “unmerited favor,” meaning something we receive despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Mary needed grace from God just as the rest of us do. Mary herself understood this fact, as she declared in Luke 1:47, “. . . and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. . .”

      Mary recognized that she needed the Savior. The Bible never says that Mary was anyone but an ordinary human whom God chose to use in an extraordinary way. Yes, Mary was a righteous woman and favored (graced) by God (Luke 1:27-28). At the same time, Mary was a sinful human being who needed Jesus Christ as her Savior, just like everyone else (Eccl 7:20; Rom 3:23; 6:23; 1 John 1:8).

      The Bible doesn’t suggest Mary’s birth was anything but a normal human birth. Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus (Luke 1:34-38), but the idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary is unbiblical. Matt 1:25, speaking of Joseph, declares, “But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave Him the name Jesus.”

      The word “until” clearly indicates that Joseph and Mary did have sexual union after Jesus was born. Joseph and Mary had several children together after Jesus was born. Jesus had four half-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55). Jesus also had half-sisters, although they are not named or numbered (Matt 13:55-56). God blessed and graced Mary by giving her several children, which in that culture was the clearest indication of God’s blessing on a woman.

      One time when Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd proclaimed, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed” (Luke 11:27). There was never a better opportunity for Jesus to declare that Mary was indeed worthy of praise and adoration. What was Jesus’ response? “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28). To Jesus, obedience to God’s Word was more important than being the woman who gave birth to the Savior.

      Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus, or anyone else, direct any praise, glory, or adoration towards Mary. Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, praised Mary in Luke 1:42-44, but her praise is based on the blessing of giving birth to the Messiah. It was not based on any inherent glory in Mary.

      Mary was present at the cross when Jesus died (John 19:25). Mary was also with the apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14). However, Mary is never mentioned again after Acts chapter 1. The apostles did not give Mary a prominent role. Mary’s death is not recorded in the Bible. Nothing is said about Mary ascending to heaven or having an exalted role there. As the earthly mother of Jesus, Mary should be respected, but she is not worthy of our worship or adoration.

      The Bible nowhere indicates that Mary can hear our prayers or that she can mediate for us with God. Jesus is our only advocate and mediator in heaven (1 Tim 2:5). If offered worship, adoration, or prayers, Mary would say the same as the angels: “Worship God!” (see Rev 19:10; 22:9.) Mary herself sets the example for us, directing her worship, adoration, and praise to God alone: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-49).

      Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/virgin-Mary.html#ixzz2mEMyyRpN

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    2. Elizabeth,

      You seem to be a sincere and zealous person, which I appreciate.
      I want to respond to your remarks in two ways, first the question as to what is the Bible, which is essential to grasp in order to approach the Scriptures properly and with due respect, and second, the matter of the Mother of God.

      I write to you having been raised a Baptist with my understanding of the Scriptures shaped by Protestant skepticism most of my adult life and now struggling over the last years to enter fully into a life of holiness and ascetic practice within the Church.

      As to the Bible, it is a product of the Church, specifically the Orthodox Church, when the Christian world held to one doctrine, now continued by Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The Church in its fullness began on the Day of Pentecost as the culmination of the ministry of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures came organically out of the Church as a record of the ministry of Christ and the Apostles, which emphatically indicate its hierarchical government. The Scriptures were guarded and separated from fraudulent writings by the Church by saintly Bishops and other laborers who were the disciples of the Apostolic tradition, being handed down as the Scriptures themselves describe. The Scriptures are one part of that tradition, as are the liturgical services, icons, prayers and Church architecture. The Scriptures are also living and dynamic and breath in the liturgical life of the Church, and are unchanging as is the Church as the Christ intended it, again as we see in the Scriptures themselves.

      It is a grave mistake to interpret the Scriptures independently of the knowledge of the Church. The understanding of the Scriptures is bound up inseparably in the life of the Church. It would be a black eye on the Church and on the prophecies of Christ himself concerning the Church if for the first 1000 years of Christianity when the Church was one and successfully defended its doctrine under extreme pressure that those speaking the language of the Scriptures as their native tongue and demonstrating spiritual virtues that are rarely seen today did not understand the meaning of the Scriptures for which they gave their lives!

      What you hold in your hands that you call the "Bible" is in fact an English translation of the Orthodox Christian Scriptures by Protestants reacting to unorthodox doctrines that developed under the Bishop of Rome in the centuries since splitting from the Orthodox Church. The correct understanding of the faith was established by Church councils, as we see in the Acts of the Apostles, by men filled with the Holy Spirit who were in a direct line of disciples from the Apostles themselves.

      I would like to invite you to attend an Orthodox service in your area and meet with a priest to see what I am talking about. That is what I did and my Protestant objections delightfully melted away and I began to taste the spiritual realities that were only distant hopes to me. I would be glad to refer you. Come and see!

      I also refer you to the epistles of an early Bishop, Ignatius of Antioch, direct disciple of the Apostles, composed to the Churches on the way to Rome and his martyrdom (Volume 1) that shed light on the continuity of the Church from the New Testament Scriptures:

      http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

      Another ancient document is Eusebius’ Church History that should be read in its entirety to open a window into the practice and cohesiveness of the Church after the Apostles.

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    3. To continue...

      As to the Mother of God, I do ask you to consider what I offered previously. Why would Calvin and Luther, who were closer to the historical foundations of these matters than modern skeptics, hold to the ever-virginity of the Mother of God? Why again would Jesus give his mother to the Apostle John if Mary had other children? Your other reasonings also diminish the mystery, holiness and the momentous nature of the Incarnation, and base your faith on the adequacy of an English translation of "until" instead of holistically observing the teaching of the entirety of the Scriptures and the Church.

      I understand your skepticism, as a recovering skeptic myself. The modern approach to the Scriptures and moral questions is fragmentary, opinionated, rationalizing, sensual, and does not respect those that have come before us, elevating temporal opinion over enduring Truth.

      As the parable of the Sower indicates the Scriptures are not open to who do not receive them with inward virtue and respect for labor. And in a time of such spiritual lethargy, deceit and anarchism, to find the way to Truth is indeed extremely difficult, as in the prophecies concerning a time such as ours.

      So again, come and see!

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    4. Italophile, I responded with the holy scriptures and you offered more personal opinions and church history. Now I see why:

      You said: "It is a grave mistake to interpret the Scriptures independently of the knowledge of the Church."

      No. It is a grave mistake to interpret the scriptures apart from the Holy Spirit. The spirit is our illuminator, and He makes things clear. The bible and the Spirit, is all you need, not Catholic church traditions nor history.

      The scriptures say, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."James :5.

      It doesn't say, if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask the church."

      As far as the bible saying the Spirit is our illuminator, come and see 2 Peter 1:19-21, 1 Cor 2:14. As to the second verse, you cannot accept the things of God because you are a natural man, not a spirit filled man.

      you said that you were a skeptic, and I see that you don't fully accept the word as a standalone gift of grace that is all sufficient.

      "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,"
      2 Timothy 3:16.

      I found the truth in the word of God. I pray you do the same.

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