May 20, 2015

Rome, Her Saints, & the Gospel

by Eric Davis

473725556This past weekend pope Francis canonized four new saints in a ceremony which received extra attention as two of the four were of Palestinian origin. One of the new Palestinian saints, Sister Mariam Baouardy (1846-1878), was a mystic and stigmatic also known as “Mary Jesus Crucified.” She was a Palestinian and foundress of the Discalced Carmelites of Bethlehem in the late 1800’s. The other new Palestinian saint, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (1843-1927), was a co-founder of the Congregation of the Rosary Sisters, who spent much of her life in Bethlehem founding schools and orphanages.

Despite the interesting politics of the situation, we will stick to commenting on the theological issues. What is a saint? How does one become a saint? And what is Rome doing when they canonize someone?

First, a brief theology on Roman Catholicism’s view of the saints.

1809546671The term canonization refers to a decree that is binding on the Universal Church issued from the pope which commands the public ecclesiastical veneration of an individual.

Rome’s criteria for recognizing an individual as a saint involves a few steps. First, the person’s life is evaluated to determine if, according to Rome, they possessed orthodox doctrine and heroic virtue, normally a number of years after death. Upon Rome’s approval, the individual is considered “venerable.” Then, the nominee is typically beatified, on the condition that a miracle occurred after the individual’s death and consequent of petition to that individual. According to Rome, this ensures that the saint-candidate is both in heaven and able to intercede for those who pray to them. At this point, the individual is permitted by Rome to be beatified, though not yet canonized. Finally, the candidate will be declared a saint upon Rome’s determination that they performed a second miracle. It should be noted that typically only the saints are said to be in heaven for certain. “The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life, is in heaven, and is to be honored by the universal Church” (http://www.catholic.org/saints/faq.php). Saints are thought to be special friends and servants of God whose holy lives have made them worthy of his special love. Once the pope canonizes the individual, the declaration is infallible and irrevocable.

St. ThereseSaints are officially venerated throughout the year. “All Saints’ Day” falls on November 1 and, according to Urban IV, was created “to supply any deficiencies in the faithful’s celebration of saints’ feasts during the year.” Many of the saints have specific days set for their veneration. A look at the Roman Catholic saint calendar is simply exhausting due to the sheer quantity of saint holidays. For example, today (May 20th) venerates St. Bernadine of Sienna, the patron saint of gambling, due to his preaching against the practice. June 13th venerates St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost items, to whom some Catholics are taught to pray, “Dear St. Anthony, come around, something is lost and can’t be found.” drogoThere are others, for example, St. Genesius (the patron saint of theatrical performers), St. Francis Borgia (the patron saint of earthquakes), St. Teresa of Avila (patron saint of headaches), St. Isidore of Seville (the patron saint of the internet), St. Apollonia (the patron saint of toothaches), St. Fiarce (patron saint of taxi drivers), and, my personal favorite, St. Drogo (the patron saint of unattractive people and coffee). In case one struggles to remember which saint is to be venerated on which day, a “Saint of the Day” smart phone app has been created to assist with that.

Additionally, prayers are to be offered both by the saints and to the saints. In other words, the saints can pray for you, as well as be prayed to by you.

But, despite the profuse teaching, the Roman Catholic doctrine of the saints violates Scripture on several crucial points. Here are a few of them:

  1. The headship of the church belongs to Christ alone.

Rome’s practice of canonization is largely an authority issue. In Roman Catholic teaching, the pope is considered head of the church and vicar of Christ, among other things. As such, he is thought to have the final say on matters such as who is and is not a saint. His act of canonization is said to be infallible, irrevocable, and universally binding. These pronouncements are fundamentally rooted in the authority and headship said to rest in the pope.

However, Scripture teaches that Christ is the perpetual head of the church. “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). As such, he alone has the authority to declare who is in heaven, who is not, and who are saints, and who are not.

  1. Prayer is to be directed towards God alone.

If God’s people were to pray to the saints, certainly Scripture would teach that. But the overwhelming testimony of Scripture teaches that prayer be directed towards God. For example, when Christ taught us how to pray, he instructed us to pray to God: “But when you pray…pray to your Father…” (Matt. 6:6), “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven…’” (Matt. 6:9), and, “…will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him…” (Luke 18:7). In each of these teachings, we are instructed to pray to God.

The Apostle Paul instructed that we pray to God: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

st-teresa-of-avileThe biblical examples of prayer describe prayer being directed towards God alone. Not one prayer in the Psalms is directed towards the dead. Further, both Jesus (e.g. John 11:41, 17:1) and the Apostles prayed only to God (e.g. Acts 1:24, 4:24, 16:25).

Rome argues that God’s people ought to ask the dead saints to pray for them on the grounds that we ask living people to pray for us. But there is a problem with that: we can speak with the living, but we are forbidden to do so with the dead (Deut 18:10-12). “And when they say to you, ‘Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,’ should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isa. 8:19). Prayer is to be directed only to God.

  1. Veneration is to be directed towards God alone.

Therese-001Rome argues that there is nothing wrong with honoring the saints since we honor the living. However, Rome teaches that the saints are to be given more than honor. When a saint is canonized, the church is under mandate, by papal infallibility, to venerate them. Combine that with the act of praying to the saints, and the consequence is idolatry, which Scripture condemns (Exod. 20:4-5, Matt. 4:10). Whether or not Rome explicitly affirms the worship of the saints, the actions are clear enough.

  1. People are made saints by faith in the Person and work of Christ alone.

The most serious issue with Rome’s teaching on the saints relates to the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. Rome teaches that saints are really the only individuals who can have the assurance of heaven, and have been granted that status through extraordinary morality and miracles. For that, Rome’s doctrine of the saints commits grievous error.

The title, “saint,” does not refer to an elite Christian, but every Christian. For example, the Apostle Paul referred to everyone in the churches at Rome (Rom. 1:7), Ephesus (Eph. 1:1), and Philippi (both lay people and deacons and elders) as “saints” (Phil. 1:1). And, perhaps outrageously from a human standpoint, the Apostle referred even to the regenerate Corinthians as “saints” (1 Cor. 1:2).

How in the world could sinful and simple, nobodies across the Roman Empire be considered saints?

Contrary to Rome, it is not our works that merit the status of sainthood and entrance into heaven with God. “Saint” is a God-given title to all who have been justified by faith alone in the Person and substitutionary work of Jesus Christ. God placed the full penalty of our sin on the sinless Christ when he died on the cross. Consequently, the most flagrant sinner may be declared a saint and in the right with God by faith alone in Christ alone. We become a saint, not by our valiant display of deeds, but by the vicarious death of Christ. Every ounce of God’s wrath due sinners was turned to Christ such that we can rest in our standing as saints of Christ and the assurance of heaven to come. Sinners become saints, not by heroic works, but humble faith. You do not need extraordinary virtue to secure sainthood with God, but an extraordinary Savior.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

Along with being biblically unsubstantiated, Rome’s teaching on the saints contradicts Scripture on some of the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity. In light of these serious biblical errors, it must be rejected.

Photo credit: assets.nydailynews.com, haaretz.com, cardiffmetropolitancathedral.org.uk, archdioceseoftoronto.blogspot.com, daughtersofthechurch.files.wordpress.com, static.guim.co.uk

Eric Davis

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Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. Leslie is his wife of 14 years and mother of their 3 children.
  • Duncan Idaho

    The mind reels. However, I do remember, a few years back. helping my Catholic neighbors in searching their garage for a set of lost tickets to the U.S. Open. The mom instructed her kids to pray to St. Anthony for help in finding the tickets. Not more than five minutes later, I came across the missing tickets in a box. Make of that what you will.

    • Many gamblers have strict rituals and superstitions they follow. When they lose, there is hardly a mention of those things being totally ineffective. When they win, they are credited for their success. Make of that what you will. 😉

      • Duncan Idaho

        The phrase “correlation does not imply causation” comes to mind. 🙂

    • Angela Weigle

      This has happened to me as well. I can only conclude that these occurrences are a manifestation of 2 Corinthians 11:14. This is a deception of the enemy.

      • Or more like Ezekiel 14 where God is pleased to honor the false idols we create in a form of judgement. I’m not sure I’d give Satan credit for putting thoughts in our mind…maybe I’m wrong though.

        Either way, it isn’t St. Ant-inny.

    • Andy B

      5 minutes is kind of slow. The other day, my roommate had spent 15 minutes looking for his keys to no success. I said, “hold on, bro, let me pray” and I specifically asked Jesus to “quickly bring to his mind where he last left the keys.” At the same time I reached the doorway, he started laughing and went walk over to a pile of stuff where he pulled out the exact pair of shorts with the keys. Must have been 10 seconds.

      • Duncan Idaho

        St. Anthony must have been swamped that day :-).

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  • Johnny

    Very good article. I’ve got a RC friend and we discussed veneration of saints recently, and they do a lot of goofy explaining about how it’s “just like asking a friend to pray for you,” but when you press them about, “wouldn’t the saint have to be omniscient and omnipresent in order to hear and respond to potentially thousands of prayers at once? Does a saint get God-like attributes in heaven, and if so, can you back that at all with Scripture?” You’ll generally get the goofy reply of “the church says so therefore it’s ok”, but the only scripture remotely close to this practice would be king Saul’s not so favorable chat with the ghost of Samuel, that didn’t go so well for him…

    • Matthew

      I can hear my dad saying, “if you’re friends all jump off a bridge…” I think Jesus said it best, “when the blind lead the blind, both will end up in a ditch.”

    • Eric Davis

      Exactly, Johnny. One misses the point when they bring up the “it’s like sharing a prayer request w/ a friend” argument, and, digs a deeper hole for themselves. That simply argues that the dead now have attributes like omnipresence, omniscience, for example.

  • fundamentals

    Just one of Rome’s many absurdities…..a church full of the contrivances of man. Thanks for a good article.

    • Eric Davis

      Sadly, yes.

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  • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

    I find it interesting that directly following the verse prohibiting consulting the dead in Isaiah 8:19, verse 20 goes onto say, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.”

    Spiritual blindness will always be rooted in rejection of what God has said in His word.

  • Adam James Howard

    good stuff

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks Adam.

  • Jason

    I would say misunderstanding of point 3 leads to point 1 which causes point 4 and by then point 2 makes an odd kind of sense (explaination below).

    If we elevate men (even those we believe to be godly) to too high of a level it becomes very easy to let them have unhealthy headship. Once the Pope is the head of the church he gets to make the call on sainthood. If only a small subset of believers are actually saints (those set apart for godly work) than it makes sense that they would have to interceed on the behalf of the average Joe Shmoe who has no real, direct relationship to God…

    This, more than a commentary on the teaching of Roman Catholicism, should be a warning for all of us who might venerate ourselves or others beyond the reasonable level of respect with which we should be treating everyone.

  • tena

    If you really want to know what Roman Catholics Believe, you should start here. If you are intrigued I suggest you take a look at the rest of the site.
    http://usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/index.cfm

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      If you really want to know what Christ followers believe, you should start with the Bible. If you are intrigued I suggest you keep reading.

      • Guest

        Yow! This response made me spit my coffee. Not very Christlike, wouldn’t you say?? I love that certain types of Christians have taken it upon themselves to ensure that other Christians know that they’re not Christian. Which, ironically, goes directly against Christ’s teachings.

        • Duncan Idaho

          Encouraging someone to read the Bible is not Christlike?

          • Guest

            In this context, no, it is absolutely not.

        • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

          No one was implying you are not a Christian. However, if my directing you to God’s Word alone for instruction and truth means I’m that “certain type of Christian” then I concede with a hearty Amen!

          • Guest

            One commenter offered a reference point to learn more about Catholicism. And your response didn’t imply that commenter wasn’t Christian – it said it boldly. This is what drives me nutty about Christianity. We all believe in the Bible, Jesus Christ, the road to salvation and the Resurrection. Do I believe exactly as you do? I’m sure I don’t, but I don’t believe you’re any less Christian than me. And I would not make a statement that says you should start reading your Bible. Christians need to begin understanding that there’s more that unites us than divides us. And until we do we will continue losing numbers in our pews. Watch your tone, Jane. The holier than thou attitude doesn’t help your cause – it only helps continue to divide.

          • The problem, Guest (aside from the fact that you’re commenting anonymously and without a valid email address, which is sure to put you on a shorter leash than normal; have the courage of your convictions and use your name), is that we don’t all believe the same things about the most foundational aspects of the Christian Gospel. That means that we’re not just other Christians from another “denomination.” When people disagree on issues as fundamental as the ground and means of salvation (the righteousness of Christ alone imputed by grace through faith alone vs. the righteousness of Christ plus our own righteousness), one of them is a Christian and the other isn’t.

            We see plain examples of that in the way that Paul spoke about the Judaizers who sought to add personal works of righteousness to the ground of our justification. He doesn’t say to the Philippians, “Now, be patient with our dear misguided brethren;” he says, “Beware of the dogs, the evil workers, the mutilators of the flesh” (Phil 3:2). He doesn’t say, “If you receive circumcision (i.e., if you count on ceremonial/sacramental obedience to contribute to your righteousness) Christ will not benefit you as much;” he says, “If you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing” (Gal 5:2).

            So you see, it really is a matter of careful definitions based upon the text of Scripture. The Apostle Paul doesn’t allow that all who call themselves Christians are necessarily Christians on the basis of their profession of faith or involvement in “Christian” activities. What matters is what they believe about Christ and the Gospel of salvation. The fact remains: Rome teaches a gospel that is fundamentally different than the Gospel taught in Scripture, and therefore we must warn our Roman Catholic friends of the folly of their church’s apostasy, and must lovingly call them to repent and believe the true Gospel.

            I hope that clarifies some things. And since no single post can ever touch on every issue, I would encourage you to read some of the “Related Posts” listed at the bottom of the original post, for more on how Roman Catholicism is at odds with the biblical Gospel.

          • tena

            Amen

      • Matthew

        Amen! I would add, if you want to know who Jesus Christ is read the Bible, and never stop.

        • tena

          We read the bible every day-two readings, one psalm, and numerous quotes.

          • Duncan Idaho

            Well, the Devil can quote Scripture, too.

          • Matthew

            That’s great, I read the psalms daily as well. I would encourage you to read the gospels as well. Just reading quotes from Scripture can make it easy to take them out of context.

          • tena

            We read the gospel every day. I posted my link to the official site of the US Catholic bishops so that there could be no misunderstanding of what Catholics believe. Do you like to get your information from the original source, or are you satisfied with second hand interpretations? If you want the truth read it at their website.

          • fundamentals

            Tena, I’m a former Roman Catholic, I don’t have a “second hand interpretation” of Catholic doctrines. But, once God reached into my life and brought me to a saving faith in Christ, and a bare-hearted love relationship with Him, I began to see that I could no longer accept many of the Roman Church’s beliefs as true. I simply use the Word of God as the litmus test for truth. I’m just a Christian now….a born again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ…..evangelical, and so very thankful for the Doctrines of Grace.

          • tena

            As a former Roman Catholic you should know that we read the Bible every day and that we do not believe that Saints are the equals of God. You should also know that the Pope does not serve as a dictator. I am happy that you have a great relationship with Jesus even if it is not through the Catholic Church. I hope that we can concentrate on how we can work together for the better of the world instead of throwing “rocks” at each other. Misinformation only leads to arguments that keep us from the true mission.

          • fundamentals

            Tena, there’s only One in Heaven that can hear prayers: God. There is no other who is omniscient and omnipresent. By attributing these characteristics to deceased people, even the mother of Jesus, we set them up as god-like. This is basically idolatry. When we go to Heaven for help, even if they could hear us, why would we avoid going to the Throne of Grace, directly to God, as the Bible instructs us? Jesus has laid down his very life to purchase His people out of bondage and redeem them from death. How could we side-step Him and go to some other heavenly entity for help?

            I’m in complete agreement with you that misinformation only causes problems. Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if we all cleaved to God and His Word alone and laid aside the traditions of men? Then, we would have the basis for Truth without argument.

      • tena

        We read the bible every day.

        • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

          Tena, that is great you read the Bible every day, but may I ask you a personal question? Do you believe you are saved by grace and have the assurance of heaven?

          • tena

            We believe that the only way to heaven is by the grace of God. We do not presume to know the will of God and will learn our fate at our final judgement.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            But Tena, that is not what the Bible teaches. The will of God is that we would have faith which alone determines our final judgement. The Bible defines faith as, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Likewise, the Holy Spirit is a deposit “guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). Ephesians 2:9 says, “It is by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is a gift from God, not by works, so no man can boast.”

            The point I’m trying to make is when the Bible tells us that we can be assured of salvation now which gives us such joy and peace, and Catholicism teaches differently, which one will you believe?

          • tena

            Jane, I am thankful that Jesus will be my judge because he knows me better than I know myself.

            Let’s try something different. Hi Jane, my name is Tena. My favorite book in the Bible is Ecclesiastes because when I read it, I know that the Kingdom of Heaven will be so much better than life on Earth. I am also drawn to the books of Matthew and John. I was raised Catholic and am not great at quoting chapter and verse, but I can paraphrase quite a bit. I came to know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light my freshman year in high school, but I was young and stupid. The seed had fallen on rocky ground. I turned away. I rededicated myself my senior year in college, but the ways of the world were bright and distracting even though I heard God tell me to turn away from evil. I completely turned away blinded. Then I had a child and realized my smallness. Since then, I have tried to be hands and tongue for Jesus. I know that I have failed him a thousand times, but I know that he still loves me. He has told me that He will not abandon me and I believe it with all of my heart. For eighteen years I have been on a better path, but I am human and my story is not yet finished.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Hi Tena, my name is Jane and my favorite book in the Bible is Ephesians. I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and was taught that I could never go to heaven, but could possibly live on a paradise earth one day, as long as I remained a good practicing JW.

            Then eighteen years ago, I stumbled across a pamphlet claiming that the JW’s were a cult. That made me angry so I bought the pamphlet and called the number on the back and demanded proof. Much to my surprise, they sent me proof. Photo copies of Watchtower and Awake magazines dating from the 1800’s exposing the failed predictions and changes in doctrine. I was so scared. Everything I had been taught to believe was a lie and I didn’t know where to turn. If I went to a priest, pastor or minister for answers, what guarantee would I have that I wouldn’t be deceived again. So I went out and bought a new Bible, one that hadn’t been translated by the witnesses and one night I got on my knees and asked God to be my teacher. I said, “If you’re there, God, help me understand your word.” I read through the Bible in a month and early on in those pages I felt myself changing on the inside, but I didn’t know why. I felt a joy and a love I had never known. I remember coming across a verse in 1 Peter that said, “Although you have not seen Him, you love Him. And although you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” It was at that moment I understood what I had been given, not because of anything I had done, but because of what Christ did on my behalf. The joy I felt was God’s Holy Spirit which the Bible says is the “guarantee of our inheritance”. It was indescribable. It is still indescribable!

            And thank you for sharing your story, Tena. It is clear that you love God and want to please Him. So please keep reading your Bible and asking God to help you understand it. That is prayer He loves to answer. I am a witness to that. 🙂

          • tena

            Wow! I am so happy for you!

            I am in the middle of John, but when I finish, I will start Ephesians.

            God Bless You!

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            That is awesome, Tena! And God bless you too!

          • Tena – Can you tell me how to get to Heaven and be forgiven of my sins?

          • tena

            My advice would be to start with Matthew 7:1-5, and then go back to the beginning of Matthew and write down what Jesus’ response was every time he was asked. The words of Jesus are very powerful and enlightening.

          • tena – If you cannot tell me how to get to Heaven and be forgiven, why should I believe you know how?

            Do you think you deserve eternal condemnation?

          • tena

            Michael, I do know that a smug, holier than thou attitude will not get anyone to Heaven. Matthew 5:3

            The only way to reach Heaven is to be FULL of GRACE which is a GIFT from God. Jesus is the judge and the only one who can forgive sin. This is Catholic teaching and as I mentioned above, if you would like to learn what Catholics actually teach instead of what some people believe that they teach you should look at Catholic resources such as the Vatican website and the USCCB website.

            I did start to pull quotes out of the Bible for you, but it got to the point where I could have written a dissertation about how many times Jesus is asked how to get to Heaven and how each of his answers differed. I am a mother of six children and do not have time for a dissertation. I suggest that you spend time reading the book of Matthew in context. The words of Jesus are pretty clear there.

          • Jason

            I’m sure you probably feel a bit outnumbered in the comments here (and I don’t want to seem to be jumping on the pile) but this statement struck me: “I am thankful that Jesus will be my judge because he knows me better than I know myself.”

            Do you believe your standard of righteousness is higher or lower than Jesus’s?

            My answer is that I know His standard is much higher than my own (I am constantly discovering this very case as I reread His word).

            The problem that this presents is that His standard is higher than one I already know I can’t always live up to (my own) and Him knowing me better than I know myself means He is even more aware of my failure to live up to the proper standard.

            It’s like me writing an article on molecular biology and then saying I’m glad the leading expert in the field is going to be reviewing it… I could maybe turn out something that makes a fifth grader say “Gee mister, you sure are smart!” but I hold no delusions that I would pass inspection from someone who really knew how clueless I am on the topic.

            Thankfully, the Bible promises that I am the righteousness of God through the sacrifice of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus was not only the judge. He is my righteousness without any regard for who I am.

            Don’t let people tell you that faith may not produce works either. Paul warned against that sort of thinking in Romans 6 and so did James in James 2:14-26. It’s just that salvation is based upon faith alone (and not the works it will produce).

            It may seem like semantics, but really it’s the narrow path between the two paths of destruction (a la Matthew 7:13). One being that a person depends on their own righteousness (which will never be enough) and the other that a person doesn’t have enough faith in the good news to live like it’s true (dead faith, which isn’t really faith at all).

          • tena

            Jason, I have honestly never considered “my righteousness”. I have nothing and am nothing without the love of Jesus. I am like a child who can only draw a picture of sunshine and a flower and present it to Him with a joyful smile. Please do not come back at me that this is an analogy of a “work” to earn grace. It is meant to align with faith in love.

            I am familiar with the book of James and am grateful that you are also. I am a servant of God because Jesus asks us to love others, not because I intend to gain rewards.

      • Dawn

        I tell my kids all the time, it’s not what you said but HOW you said it and your reply was very antagonizing and condescending.

        • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

          If you find that directing people to the Bible vs. a denominational website is antagonizing and condescending, your issue is not with me, but with the Bible.

    • Eric Davis

      Tena – thanks for stopping by the blog. I understand that the doctrine of the saints as explained in this post may not be what all Roman Catholics profess to believe, but it is taken from some of the most authoritative Catholic sources. If you take issue with a particular theological statement above, please feel free to bring that up here in the comments section so that we can interact. Thanks Tena

      • tena

        Then please name your sources.

        • Eric Davis

          Tena-the sources are included in the post. They include sources like New Advent, Catholic Answers, and such.

          Again, however, let’s talk specifically about theological issues and compare them to what Scripture teaches. Thanks Tena. I understand that this is a volatile issue. I assure you that the intention here is to: 1) Take theological views to which many, many people adhere, 2) be obedient to examine them up against, not our opinions, but God’s word (Titus 1:9), and 3) change our views so that they align with God’s word, and nothing more. Hope that makes sense.

          • tena

            I have spent some time on this site and determined that some Catholics much more knowledgeable than I have spoken in other articles. I am no match for your Bible quoting, but I do know that in your above article you gave more opinion than fact about the Catholic Church. I suggest that in the future you get your information about the Church from The Catechism of the Catholic Church which can be found free online or purchased at little cost. I also highly recommend Relevant Radio as a source.

            Incidentally, I looked up your Bible quotes and the one that is your logo had already been highlighted in my Bible. I find that very interesting considering we are so far apart in theology.

            May God bless you and grant you wisdom.

          • Angela Weigle

            Hello, Tena.

            As a former Catholic, I have been reading this thread with some interest. At your suggestion, I visited the online Catholic Catechism here: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm and read the section entitled The Intercession of the Saints (section 956). While reading, I clicked on the reference numbers in the paragraph, none of which referred to scripture. In fact, only half of the references listed on the bottom of the page point to scripture.

            Next I googled Protestant Catechism and clicked on a few of the results. All of those I checked out had only scripture for references. So, I suppose the issue comes down to what we believe about the Bible. Those who believe it is the very Word of God check all other doctrines against what scripture teaches.

            Before I was a believer, I struggled with the biblical stories I learned growing up. I wanted so badly to put my faith in God, but I could not reconcile my “intelligence” with stories such as Noah’s flood, the parting of the Red Sea, and even Jesus’s resurrection. I had no assurance that I would go to heaven, because I wasn’t sure I was good enough.

            Finally, I “gave up” and decided that I would believe what the Bible says, and that made all the difference! I can believe the Bible because God is God and I am not. I rest on Isaiah 55:8: “for my thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways, declares Yahweh.”

            Nothing I do here on earth is going to be good enough for a holy and righteous God. Only the substitutionary life, death, and resurrection of the perfect, holy One – Jesus – can redeem me. Just like the thief on the cross beside Jesus, I have put my faith and hope in Him alone.

            This is my assurance. I pray that as you continue to read through the scriptures, you will enjoy the same assurance of your own salvation.

          • tena

            Angela, I did not come to this site to debate who merits Heaven. That is for Jesus to decide.

            I did come here to ask that people do not continue to perpetuate myths about the Catholic Church. I am sorry that you did not have good teachers there, but am happy that you know Jesus. I am curious to know: Are your new beliefs far from what we recite in the Nicene Creed?

          • Tena, the point the Scriptures make over and over again is that no one merits heaven, except Jesus. The only way anyone ever gets to heaven is if the merit of Jesus is graciously counted to be ours through faith in Him and His work alone. Trusting in our good works, even in part, and even the good works that we acknowledge are gifts from God, leaves us in a position that Jesus describes as “not justified,” i.e., not declared righteous (cf. Luke 18:14).

            I know you’re busy, but I really urge you to take some time and read this post that expounds a bit more on that. Please take the time.

          • tena

            Mike, in my Bible Luke 18:14 is the very last part of the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. This is one of the most popular topics in Catholicism. The humble man is justified and will be exalted. The man who sings his own praises will be humbled. This is a very good argument for not assuming that we have earned Heaven, so how can you say that your faith (which only Jesus can know) has saved you for sure?

            Maybe I shall go through the Gospels this summer and make a list of EVERY time that Jesus was asked about Heaven and submit it here.

            I will read the other post later tonight.

          • I would encourage you to go ahead and read the post when you can.

            Regarding your question, it’s interesting the way that you turn faith into a work, the virtue of which you make the ground of justification. The point of that parable, though, as well as other key passages in the New Testament (please see here also), is that the ground or basis of my salvation is not the strength of my faith, but rather the perfect righteousness of Christ that is counted to be mine as a gift. I can be sure that I will go to heaven, not because I’ve earned it, not because my faith has earned it, but because Jesus earned it, and now grants that gift freely to anyone who turns form their sin, turns form trusting in their good works, and trusts in Christ alone for their righteousness.

            I believe those posts will benefit you, Tena. Please read them and let me know what you think.

          • tena

            Mike, I read your posts and frankly they make my head spin. How can you claim that a statement from Paul is the “foundational doctrine” of the New Testament? I have always been taught to read and follow the Word of Jesus. In my church we read the Word of Jesus as the central part of our Liturgy of the Word. We take the Word of Jesus as he stated. We do not spend hours spinning it to conform it to what we want it to be.

            I encourage you to reread the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector as the simple story it is, a story of how it is better to admit that we sin than to boast of our perfection. “Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner.” is as relevant today as ever.

            After all, why did Jesus teach in parables? Was it so that others could interpret it, or was it because people understand simple stories?

            The other recurring theme that I take exception to is how these posts are always comparing your beliefs to those of the Catholic Church. First of all, your suppositions are completely false, and I encourage you to get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church if you truly want to quote/study our beliefs (without spin). Second of all, you have no reason to bash us if you truly believe in your form of salvation. If you are right, then what we believe is irrelevant. We do not spend time exalting ourselves over others. It is our wish that there is room in Heaven for all, even though none of us deserve what Jesus did for us.

            I have also felt for a long time that what we call “works” and what you call “works” are not the same thing. We do not do “works” in order to “buy” grace. We do “works” because Jesus asks us to love others. Our only “works” are being servants for Jesus. We do not mull over the merits of our “works”, we just do what needs to be done and move on without boasting.

          • Mike, I read your posts and frankly they make my head spin.

            I would encourage you to take a second, and humbly reflect whether that is a result of your never having been taught the true Gospel of Christ.

            How can you claim that a statement from Paul is the “foundational doctrine” of the New Testament? I have always been taught to read and follow the Word of Jesus.

            The fact that you see a dichotomy between the two is very telling, and very disconcerting. First of all, the words written by Paul are just as much “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16) as the words of Jesus recorded by the Gospel writers. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable. The purposes of the Gospels are to introduce Jesus as the King of Israel, their Messiah, the Suffering Servant, the God-man prophesied in the Old Testament. The rest of the New Testament contains the teachings and doctrine about the person and work of Christ that is the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20), which Christ Himself promised that the Holy Spirit would bring to the church because they couldn’t bear everything He had to say to them at that point (John 16:12-13).

            Secondly, both because (a) the sayings of Jesus recorded by the Gospel writers and the teachings of Paul were inspired by the same Holy Spirit, and (b) there is manifest agreement between them, there is no conflict between Jesus’ words and Paul’s words. To say so is to undermine the authority of Scripture and create a canon within a canon. Paul taught the Gospel that Jesus taught, and that’s nowhere more evident than in the parable of Luke 18. The man who trusted in his works (even though he thanked God for working those works in him) didn’t go to his house justified. The one who was justified was not someone who had “earned” righteousness by his faith or humility, but who rather admitted his total inability to please God (cf. Rom 3:10-12), and cast himself on God’s mercy for salvation. The Greek phrase for “be merciful to me” is literally translated, “Be propitious towards me.” Propitiation means to appease or satisfy wrath. The sinner recognizes that his own works earn him nothing but God’s righteous wrath to be exercised on him in hell. But, because he looks entirely outside of himself to God Himself to satisfy His own wrath (which we later learn is satisfied in the death of Christ Himself), he goes to his house justified.

            Tena, are you looking outside of yourself to Christ alone to appease the wrath of God against your sins? Are you looking for a righteousness that is entirely external to you, in Christ alone? If not, you are still dead in your sins and you need to repent.

            We take the Word of Jesus as he stated. We do not spend hours spinning it to conform it to what we want it to be.

            This is just begging the question. My claim (supported by exegesis and explanation of the text itself) is that the Word of Jesus as He stated is that a man is justified by grace through faith in Him alone, and not by works — even works that are acknowledged to be wrought in us by the grace of God. Those works are the evidence of salvation, not the ground. They are the fruit, not the root. To teach otherwise is to teach a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all (cf. Gal 1:6-10).

            There is no spin. In fact, what you claim as the plain meaning is really a superficial glossing over the text that refuses to get at the meaning by patiently studying the text.

            I encourage you to reread the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector as the simple story it is, a story of how it is better to admit that we sin than to boast of our perfection.

            I trust you don’t mean to be condescending by insinuating that I haven’t ever read the story carefully, but be aware that that is how this remark comes off.

            Note carefully, in verse 9, the purpose for which Jesus tells the parable: “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” This describes the false gospel of Roman Catholicism to a T. The official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church is that righteousness is infused into the believer, is “preserved and increased” through the believer’s good works (Council of Trent, Canon 24), and thus is a ground of his justification. That is trusting in yourself that you’re righteous. “I will go to heaven because I merit it at least partly by my actions.” Jesus tells this parable to show people that trusting in yourself for righteousness does not leave you going to your house justified (cf. Lk 18:14).

            After all, why did Jesus teach in parables? Was it so that others could interpret it, or was it because people understand simple stories?

            Actually, it was the former reason. When Jesus began speaking in parables, the disciples came and asked Him why:

            Matthew 13:10-12 – And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

            The purpose of the parables was to confound those who rejected Jesus and to reveal Himself to those who trusted in Him. That’s why He had to interpret them for the disciples (see Matt 13:18-23). They come to Him and say, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field” (Matt 13:36).

            So you see, the parables do need interpretation, precisely because they were stories to hide truth from those who were not of Christ (though perhaps they thought they were) and to reveal truth to those who were truly His.

            First of all, your suppositions are completely false, and I encourage you to get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church if you truly want to quote/study our beliefs.

            This is just false on its face. I would challenge you to present a specific claim that has been made on this site, and then quote the Catechism and demonstrate how any of the writers have misrepresented official Catholic teaching.

            On the contrary, there are many posts in which we provide such documentation:

            The Gospel According to Rome

            5 Differences between Catholic Theology and the Gospel

            How Christians Will Know They Can Join Hands with Rome

            Vatican II Quotes that Divide

            If you can’t provide examples and documentation of misrepresentation, then you need to retract your accusations here, as they have no substance or basis in reality.

            Second of all, you have no reason to bash us if you truly believe in your form of salvation. If you are right, then what we believe is irrelevant.

            Firstly, no one is “bashing” you. Pointing out the fact that the Roman Catholic Church teaches a false gospel by comparing its doctrines to Scripture is not bashing. It’s simply demonstrating that the theology is unbiblical.

            Secondly, what you believe is not irrelevant if millions of people believe it and it leads them to hell. People who trust in the gospel of Roman Catholicism believe that they’re saved when they’re not. Compassion demands that we do everything we can to help them see the error of their beliefs and to warn them of the danger of eternal punishment that awaits all those who do not repent and trust in Christ alone for righteousness.

            I have also felt for a long time that what we call “works” and what you call “works” are not the same thing.

            Here’s the bottom line: if you were to die tonight and stand before Christ, and He were to ask you, “Tena, why should I let you into heaven?” what would your response be? If it would sound something like, “Lord, I’m a pretty good person. I did right by my family. I didn’t go out of my way to hurt anyone. I tried my best to love people like you told me to, to serve them and help them. I wasn’t perfect, but I tried to follow how you told me to live,” then you, like the man in the parable who boasted in his God-given good works, will not go to your eternity justified. But if your response is, “Lord, You shouldn’t let me in. Nothing that I’ve ever done, whether in my own strength or by grace, is righteous enough to earn Your favor. I deserve hell. My only claim to heaven is that You lived a perfect life of righteousness, died on the cross in my place to satisfy the wrath of God against my sins, and rose again to defeat death; and You promised that all who trust in Your work alone would have Your righteousness credited to them. By Your own grace, I trust in Your work alone for my righteousness,” then you will go to your house justified.

            Romans 3:21-28 – But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

            Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

            Galatians 2:16, 21 – knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. … I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.

            Galatians 3:7-14 – Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. 10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE “– 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

            Romans 4:16 – For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.

            Romans 11:6 – But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            But Tena, it is not humility to think you can earn your salvation by good works, that was the point Jesus was trying to make. The humble man in this parable represented those who understand their spiritual poverty and complete dependence on the mercy and grace of Christ for salvation.The Pharisee (a religious man) believed that his good works would earn him favor with God. Protestants, who understand their complete depravity before a holy God cry out for that forgiveness and receive it. That is not arrogance. Arrogance is believing we can earn God’s favor by what we do vs. what Christ did on our behalf.

          • Angela Weigle

            My beliefs line up with the Nicene Creed because the Creed is biblical.

            It is precisely because I know Jesus and love him so that I cannot agree with the veneration of saints and the idea that they intercede on our behalf. If that is so, why didn’t Jesus pray to Moses?

            By the way, I don’t think anyone on this thread was perpetuating myths about the Catholic Church.

      • Dawn

        Any Christian who tears down other denominations is not very christian at all. Protestants make up their own beliefs, rules, and churches all the time but somehow always end up picking on Catholics.

        • fundamentals

          You know, Dawn, as a former Roman Catholic, and now an evangelical Christian, I must disagree with your comment. But I would be interested to see you post some facts to back up your assertions.

          • Dawn

            All I need to do is buy a building and pick a name and I’ve got a church. No research needed.

          • fundamentals

            I’m not sure what that means, Dawn.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Dawn, wasn’t it you that just said that any Christian who tears down other denominations is not very Christian at all, and here you are taking a jab at Protestantism? This is not a denominational competition. If you have scriptures to refute the specific claims made in this article regarding Catholic teachings, please post them.

          • Guest

            I’m a regular reading of the this blog. I find it to be very interesting and I’ve learned quite a bit. I am not, however, an evangelical Christian and never will be. I’m also not Catholic, but I am a solid Christian with a deep faith in Jesus Christ. But what does bother me about this blog is that this group of writers regularly use it as a way to let others know why those who are affiliated with other Christian denominations are wrong and going to hell. Is this the best use of very prominent real estate? Is this the message you want to ensure you get across? Is this inspiring? It’s not. It just continues to divide and point out difference. Who are you to tell me you’re more Christian than me? It would be wonderful if there were more posts re: what unites us as Christians. How can we come together even with our differences? How can we do some good? How can we use our numbers to change the world and change hearts? The infighting, finger pointing and judgment (and this post is laced with judgment) simply is not what Christ intended.

          • Guest, please see my reply above.

            Sometimes, what some people think of simply as “other Christian denominations” are actually not Christian denominations at all, but apostate “churches” that claim to be Christian who nevertheless have no true saving relationship with Christ. And that case is not to be made by our assertions (“I’m more Christian than you!”) but by patient teaching from the text of Scripture. It only matters if God says it, and we believe His Word plainly demonstrates the difference between Roman Catholic theology and the biblical Gospel of Christ. (Again, I direct you to my comment above and to the “Related Posts” at the bottom of the original post to make that biblical case.)

            And if that’s the case, then calling those who believe their Christians but are not (based on God’s Word) is not hateful but the most loving thing that we can do, even if it earns us the ire and denigration of the world, and anonymous commenters, as the case may be.

          • Eric Davis

            Guest – keep in mind that when an issue like today’s post comes up, it is not creating division. Division already exists consequent of significant biblical error here. Rome’s doctrine of the saints violates the fundamental truths of the Christian faith. So, great division is already there. The goal of this post is to identify the existing division so that people might come to the knowledge of the truth, and, therefore, be unified with God and his word.

        • Eric Davis

          Hi Dawn – Thanks for stopping by the blog. I understand that this is somewhat of a controversial issue here. And you made quite a statement in this comment, namely, that “Protestants make up their own beliefs, rules, and churches all the time..” In the interest of accuracy and truth, could you be specific as to what beliefs and rules Protestants make up all the time? Sweeping statements are not helpful b/c they do not pinpoint a particular truth. Thanks Dawn.

  • Robert Sakovich

    I remember growing up Catholic…even as an altar boy…as mainly struggling with guilt and self-righteousness. Quite the odd couple, but I am guessing I’m not the only one.
    For all of the Roman Catholics, let me make a couple of things clear. I don’t think anybody here is saying that you can’t be saved and be in a Catholic church. However, there are many doctrines that the RCC holds to that are heretical. I am listing a few in the following sentences:
    The idea that there is a bank of grace from super saints that can be accessed through the practice of indulgences (which was never retracted or condemned by the RCC) is not biblical. The worship of Mary and the Immaculate conception (Mary being born sinless) is not biblical. Salvation by grace plus works is not biblical. Transsubstantiation (the bread and wine becoming the actual body and blood of Jesus) is not biblical.
    I only gained knowledge of these and other areas by studying the Bible and church history…especially the Reformation. One note of interest to me is that the early leaders of the Catholic church didn’t believe in grace plus works. One of the authors here (Nathan Busenitz) delivered a message on this at the Shepherds Conference a few years ago and has quotes from several (like 20+ if I remember correctly) of the early Catholic church leaders to demonstrate that the early RCC believed in salvation by grace alone. Again, I wasn’t taught this in the RCC (and I went through training for being an altar boy and confirmation)…I only found all of this out after leaving the RCC when I was saved. I think many would benefit greatly from a thorough study of all the facts before jumping to the defense of any one position.

  • Dawn

    It’s never a good idea for me to engage in theological conversations after a sleepless night with a sick infant 😉 My comment about anyone being able to start
    their own “church” in the protestant arena was only meant to point out that,
    since the Reformation, almost anyone can claim to be an expert on the teachings
    of Christ and can begin their own church. To me, this is dangerous territory, more so than the practice of canonizing saints.

    As for Catholic belief and teachings regarding saints, there definitely is some scriptural reference to draw from. Ephesian 2:19-20 for example, “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones (some translations actually say saints here instead of holy ones) and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.”

    Lastly, because Catholics do not have a Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) view of faith, we will never resolve the “saint debate” on this board. Our recognition of saints (not veneration/worship as this article claims) comes from sacred tradition passed down from our Magisterium. Not every single word spoken by Jesus and his disciples is recorded in the bible. But Jesus did give authority to Peter (rock) to shepherd his flock (Matthew 16:18-19 “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Only in the Catholic Church can our leadership be traced back to Jesus himself and the headship he bestowed upon Peter.

    My Catholic faith saved me from a path of self-destruction and I have seen many come to Jesus through the Catholic Church. And isn’t that the whole point of any Christian church? Conversion of saints, forgiveness of sins, and salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? God bless you all.

    • Bob

      Amen.

    • tena

      Amen!!!

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      Dawn, just wanted to mention that when Jesus said that He would build His church on this rock, it was not on Peter the man, but on Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. That misinterpretation of scripture has robbed Christ of His rightful place as head of the church.

      • tena

        Jane, why did Jesus rename Simon “Cephas” which translates into Peter. The apostles refer to both Cephas and Peter numerous times in Acts and following. Does your version of the Bible continue to call him Simon? Christ has always been the head of the Church, Peter (Cephas) was simply the pope.

        • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

          Tena, Jesus renamed Simon Cephas because when Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter responded correctly that He was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Peter’s confession of faith, as with ours, is what grants us the keys to the Kingdom. We are saved by faith.

          It is important to note that there are no supporting scriptures anywhere in the Bible stating that Jesus would build His church on Peter. On the contrary, Paul says in Ephesians 2:20 that through Christ we are fellow citizens and members of God’s household, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone,” meaning the church has been built on the faith of the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ and the apostles who were eye witnesses of his death and resurrection. Not only that, but Jesus is referred to repeatedly throughout the old and new testament as the rock, (specifically see 1 Cor. 10:4).

          You see, when one scripture is taken out of context that does not align with the rest of scripture, it is called proof texting and leads people into error. Please read Ephesians slowly and prayerfully to see how through faith we are included in Christ and assured of the Kingdom.

        • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

          Tena, I’m not sure if you have stepped away from the conversation by this time, but I just wanted to say that our ultimate hope through all of this was not to win a theological debate with you, but to see people like yourself, who are trying to live lives that please God, come to have that full assurance of salvation that Jesus came to give us. All of us here are just tax collectors who have cried out for mercy, understanding that we cannot save ourselves. And because of that, we have received forgiveness and have been overwhelmed by His love through the Holy Spirit. I pray that as you read through the Bible you will see that salvation is a gift that is received, not earned, not given at the judgement, but now, in order that we may be filled with true joy in who we are in Christ. Blessings to you, my friend.

          • tena

            Jane, I have had a really busy day. Jr. High award ceremony in the morning, Kindergarten music presentation in the afternoon. Planted potatoes (late this year) while dinner simmered, and then off to a little league game.

            I really do not have time for theological debates. I have said time and again that Catholics believe that we are only saved by grace through Christ. Not once have I mentioned “earning” grace, yet you all keep telling me that I am wrong for believing that I can save myself. Everything that I have is a gift from God. I am an undeserving servant, a tiny speck. I will not presume to know the will of God who is greater that anything that I can imagine. Yet, I have faith, hope, and love.

            I have always been interested in learning different points of view. I do not remain Catholic because it is all I know. I spent several years looking for a new religion. I chose to be Catholic because through my studies, I came to believe that it is the Church that Jesus founded and trusted to Peter. If I were not Catholic I would be Jewish. I am perfectly happy to agree to disagree as long as we can build a bridge between us.

          • I have said time and again that Catholics believe that we are only saved by grace through Christ.

            The key question, Tena, is whether you believe that the free grace-gift of salvation comes through faith in Him alone, or through faith in Him and our good works. If the former, Hallelujah! We celebrate and rejoice in our common salvation! It’s just that you wouldn’t be Catholic if that were true of you. If the latter, then you’re in line with what the Catholic Church teaches, but entirely out of accord with what Scripture teaches (again, see those passages I quoted in my other response to you: Rom 3:21-28; 4:16; 11:6; Gal 2:16, 21; 3:7-14; etc.).

            Not once have I mentioned “earning” grace, yet you all keep telling me that I am wrong for believing that I can save myself.

            The reason we keep insisting that is because that is the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Here’s the Council of Trent:

            Having, therefore, been thus justified and made the friends and domestics of God, advancing from virtue to virtue, they are renewed, as the Apostle says, day by day, that is, mortifying the members of their flesh, and presenting them as instruments of justice unto sanctification, they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works, increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and are further justified…

            This is to confuse justification with sanctification, and make the ground of our salvation our good works along with Christ’s work. We cannot increase the righteousness we received through the grace of Christ; His righteousness is infinite! To suggest otherwise, as Trent does here, is blasphemous and is to teach a false system of salvation.

            And again:

            If anyone says that the [justification] received is not preserved and…increased before God through good works but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema.

            So the RCC has here condemned all Protestants to hell because we believe that Christ’s righteousness is imputed (not imparted or infused) through faith alone (and not through faith plus works). Do you believe I’m going to hell for believing that, Tena? It would seem that, if you want to be a good Catholic, you have to, for Trent is Canon Law.

            Everything that I have is a gift from God. I am an undeserving servant, a tiny speck.

            The thing is, Tena, the Pharisee in the parable of Luke 18 could say (in a manner of speaking, he did say) the same thing. Whatever he was, he thanked God for being that way. And yet because he trusted in his righteousness — even the righteousness that he acknowledged was from God — he did not go to his house justified.

            I will not presume to know the will of God who is greater that anything that I can imagine.

            The problem with this is: God Himself has revealed His will to us in His Word. He tells us in 1 John 5:13: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” God has revealed Himself to us in His written Word so that we can know we have eternal life — so we can live in the freedom of rock solid assurance based on the righteousness of Another, and not at all in ourselves. When God has made Himself so clear, it is not humility that pretends to not know what He’s said. It’s actually pride.

            I chose to be Catholic because through my studies, I came to believe that it is the Church that Jesus founded and trusted to Peter.

            This simply is not the case. Jesus Christ founded a Church, but it is not nor has it ever been the Roman Catholic Church.

            Regarding Peter’s role and that Matthew 16 passage, I would invite you to learn more about how a careful reading of Scripture in its own context shows that the Roman interpretation of that passage is a sham: http://thecripplegate.com/upon-this-rock/

            If I were not Catholic I would be Jewish.

            I think I’ll always remember the day that I read this. This is truly an astounding statement. Think for a moment, Tena, why this would be true in your life. The Jewish people, just like the Roman Catholics, count on their own good works (maybe even grace-wrought works!) for their righteousness before God. But listen to the Apostle Paul’s condemnation of them:

            Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. – Romans 10:1-4
            The Jew’s problem is the same as the Catholic’s: they both underestimate the absolute holiness of God, and think they can mix their own works with Christ’s blood to “preserve and increase” their justification. But this religious zeal for God that both Jews and Catholics have, it’s simply not in accordance with knowledge, and it is not in subjection to the righteousness of God that comes through faith in Christ alone (cf. Phil 3:9).
            Please, Tena, think through these things very carefully. They are the difference between life and death, between heaven and hell. Turn from sin and self, and put your trust in Christ alone for your salvation today.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Hi Tena, thanks for commenting again.Sounds like you are a very busy mom, plus a gardener and a good cook! I
            remember those days, apart from the gardening and being able to cook. 🙂

            I guess I want to leave you with one final thought if that’s okay: You began this conversation by providing a link
            to what Catholics believe. I gave back a sassy reply directing you to what God’s Word says. I truly did not do that to be antagonistic. I did that because the reason God has preserved His Word is so that we would turn to HIM for
            answers on who He is, why we’re here and where we’re going. Religion has a history of messing that up, even old religions. Had I not tested what the JW’s taught me against God’s Word, I would still be lost.

            So what I’m trying to do is not direct you to a religion, or to debate with you about what Catholics believe, but to point you to God’s Word so that you let God define Himself, His plan and His salvation. His Word will answer all your questions and lay to rest all your fears. May you come to see it as I have, a treasure by which I measure all things.
            It was nice talking with you, Tena! Thanks for taking the time.

          • tena

            Jane, I am very happy to have met you through this. Thank you for being gracious. I will keep you in my prayers and hope that you do the same for me.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Absolutely! Take care, Tena. 🙂

          • Libs

            I truly appreciate this post and conversation in this thread, I’m learning quite a bit here.

            I don’t understand your statement that you would be Jewish if not Catholic.
            The Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah.
            The Catholics reject that Jesus the Messiah said, “It is finished.”
            Christ alone and His work alone is the “bridge” that binds the believers in unity.
            Something to ponder.

            I know life is busy, but possibly, here and there, adding some of the material from the reformers (luther, calvin, 1689 Baptist Confession, and/or Westminster Confession of Faith) would be helpful in your studies.

            Best to you, Tena, as you pray and think through Scripture placing yourself (as we all do) under the authority of God’s word.

          • tena

            My statement means that through reading the Bible and spending time doing a comparative religion study, I understand that the Church founded by Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles is the Catholic Church. If I do not believe this, I do not believe that Jesus is Messiah and then would consider myself to be Jewish waiting for the messiah to come.

            You have been taught fallacies about the Catholic Church, but you are only responsible for what you know. The following link is from a former protestant minister who is now a Catholic theologian. It does explain “It is finished.” You can choose whether or not to understand it. http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/euchc2.htm

            He has written many books including The Lambs Supper, explaining Mass; and Rome Sweet Home, his conversion story. I could also lead you to others who grew up Protestant but are now Catholic. Yes there are Catholics who have become protestants also, I will not contest that. Free will is real.

            I do read my Bible. I have read and intend to reread a biography of Paul (Zondervan). I do have a copy of a biography of Luther (Tan-yes it is from a Catholic perspective, but does not demonify him) that I may have time to start afterwards. I have no intention of reading the others as my true vocation on this earth is to be a mother not a theologian.

          • Libs

            I’m sorry. It seems I have upset you, that was not my intention, I truly did not understand your statement. Thanks for making the time to clarify it for me.

            My primary understanding of Catholicism comes from a wee bit of reading, but mostly friends who are in or have come out of the CC. All of them mentioned to me that they prayed to saints and to dead relatives as they were taught by the nuns.

            I’m reading through the link you posted. I’m not sure I can “choose” to understand or not, but I’ll try to read carefully to understand. I am FAR from a theologian, others may want to address this one. (smile)

            As far as “free will” I understand the Scripture to say that we are dead in our trespasses and sins, so, I believe the Scripture to be saying – dead people cannot choose, they have to be awakened by the Holy Spirit to life.

            I was only offering up the choices as they are fairly new to me in understanding the reformers and why they left the CC.

            Enjoy your day and your kiddos!

          • tena

            You did not upset me. I understood that your question was one of genuine interest and not confrontational. I wish that we could sit down with coffee and snacks and have a real discussion. It is so hard to write without being misinterpreted. (I was responding while the kids were causing some chaos.)

            The biggest problem with Catholics is that many think that they learned everything that they need to know in school/catechism and they do not continue to learn. We have a rich beautiful faith for those that choose to find it.

            I do not believe that we are dead until the final judgement. I believe that even when we make it hard for ourselves to see Jesus, that there is a window open for us. I also believe in eternal life and with it we are never dead. As a Catholic I have been taught that the Saints have eternal life and that they are good role models. We pray with saints (alive), we do not worship them. Worship is for God alone.

          • Robert Sakovich

            Tena,
            I would ask you to please consider my comment about heretical beliefs that the RCC holds and address them. Maybe you don’t hold to those beliefs and don’t even know that the RCC holds to such doctrines, but if you read through the Council of Trent or Vatican II, you will surely see that all of them are official positions of the RCC. If you do not hold to them, you should take that up with your priest and ask him about all of it.
            I hope that your Scripture reading is growing you in wisdom and that you understand that nobody is here to attack you. I am, however, attacking the heretical doctrines that are taught and held by the RCC. Not every person who declares themselves Catholic believe all of these things and when I say RCC, I am speaking of the leaders and institution, not every member.

  • tovlogos

    I just caught up to this post, Eric — one of the conversations I have spent a fair amount time, especially #4.

    Regarding 1 Timothy 4:1-4 as referencing Roman Catholicism, verse 3 is hard to pass by without discerning direct reference to Catholic doctrine.
    Also Matthew 16:18, indicating the play on words in the greek, that leaves no doubt that a single human is not the one who could possibly be the corner stone of God’s church — the idea seems blasphemous.

    This is of the many articles that is good grist for the mill. I am content to let God lead to whom will benefit. So many are in a cultic trap, who will not break free without the Lord. (1 Corinthians 3:7) Thanks.

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