Will Good Works Save Atheists, According to Pope Francis?


Reblogged from CATHOLIC VOTE

Pope Francis raised a lot of eyebrows Wednesday after saying all people who do good works, including atheists, are going to heaven.

At least, that’s how the Huffington Post interpreted Pope Francis’ Wednesday morning homily.

Here’s what Pope Francis really said about atheists:

Pope Francis

Stephen Driscoll / CNA

The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter  that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.

Apparently, HuffPo doesn’t understand the difference between redemption and salvation because here’s how they reported on the pope’s remarks:

Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists…

Of course, not all Christians believe that those who don’t believe will be redeemed, and the Pope’s words may spark memories of the deep divisions from the Protestant reformation over the belief in redemption through grace versus redemption through works.

 

As usual the media doesn’t get Catholic theology. You can read the rest of the article —HERE

Assurance, Hope, and Presumption


This post is a response to a comment on–>The Sin of Presumption Opposed to Hope

John: So…While Christians may “Hope” for Salvation, the reality is there is no way to “know” that we have been saved short of human presumption which is not Scripturally based.

Bread From Heaven: First, I wish to deal with the comment “which is not Scripturally based”, as i have many times before. But Sola Scriptura or the Protestant doctrine that nothing is to be believed unless it is “Scripturally based” is itself NOT based in Scripture. There is no way to know without any doubt that we are going to go to Heaven when we die. How could we? We all have free will. We are not Christian Puppets once we are born again. We always have the choice to commit a sin unto death. We are not omniscient, so how is it possible for us to KNOW we will persevere to the end? Only God Knows. We can hope. We can be pretty sure that we will die in friendship with God and go to Heaven. Have you never known a person or more than one, who by all appearances was a good and true Christian who later was found to have had an affair, embezzled from work, or even committed murder?

John:Is this Catholic teaching on Salvation? Also; I believe I read you saying that the Catholic Church believes you can “lose” your Salvation…So, how many “times” can a person be saved and then “lost”?

Bread From Heaven: Only God knows. What we do know is that it is possible to commit sin so as to be lost to Heaven as St. Paul tells us and many writers of Scripture warn us of this.

Please see my post Can We Lose Our Salvation? for just a few of the thousands of scriptures that supports the Catholic position.

St. John clearly tells us about “sin unto death” or deadly sin.

  1. 1 John 5:16
    If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
  2. 1 John 5:17
    All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
  3. And St. Paul Romans 6:16
    Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
  4. Romans 5:21
    That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

And St. Paul has lists of sins that he exhorts avoidance b/c they have no part in the Kingdom of God.

John: My question is based on a simple premise, that all sin is sin and sin keeps us separated from God.

Bread From Heaven: All sin IS equal in that all sin, no matter what it is is enough to separate us from God so that we are in need of a Savior. But, all sin is not equal in the eyes of God. Some sin is an abomination and deadly as clearly stated in Scripture. For clarity please see my post–>Is All Sin The Same In God’s Eyes?

John: It would be presumptuous to say well, my sin is certainly not enough to keep me from God, eternally, so in that, I have “Hope”.

Bread From Heaven: I agree with you! But that is not Catholic teaching.

All sin offends God. We are to confess and repent from all sin. And ” He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin.”This is what leads to hope. Not a self judgement that we haven’t done anything too bad so we still have hope. That is an abominable attitude. And it is indeed presumptuous.

John: The second issue has to do with “assurance”. By this model, every person who has ever lived, assuming they are in fact humble, would be found laying on their death bed, petrified that the “unconfessed sin” could be the one that lands them in Hell for if purgatory does exist, it is also true that not all souls go there. For some, there sin is too great and they will awaken on the other side, in Hell.

Bread From Heaven: One should be petrified of unconfessed and unrepented sin. That is why we pray for a holy death that includes a final confession to a priest and communion to strengthen us. If what you really mean is, forgotten and therefore unconfessed sin we have nothing to fear. Any confession to a priest absolves us from sin we have truly forgotten. If we remember it later than we are obligated to confess and of course repent from it. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven except persistent rejection of Grace.

John: Is it not then presumptuous for anyone to assume their sin is only enough to require a period of cleansing in the much debated Purgatory?

Bread From Heaven: Yes. We hope we make it to Purgatory. We should not assume it.

John: 1 John 5:13, John 20:31, John 16:33, John 13:19, et al, seem to clearly indicate a peace (of mind) in “knowing” that Salvation is not just possible, but assured.

Bread From Heaven: Let’s take a look at the actual passages.

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.

John 13:19 From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Only the first passage, which says “so that you may know that you have eternal life”seems to argue against my contention that we cannot KNOW for sure we WILL go to Heaven. And of course, anyone can at a point in time be sure that they are saved. For example, we can know, immediately following a good confession or baptism, before we have had a chance to sin again. I do not mean to imply that we must go through life without a single clue about our eternal destiny. What I am saying is that falling away is always a possibility. Therefore, we cannot be absolutely SURE of final salvation for the next five, ten or twenty years etc. We must be humble before the unpredictability and fallenness of our nature.

And let’s not forget that the passage we quoted above is after five chapters and many verses. For instance, some of what John wrote in order that we can “know we have eternal life”:

2 In this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God, and keep his commandments.

3 For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy.

4 For whatsoever is born of God, overcomes the world: and this is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith.

For instance if we love the children of God, obey His commandments and overcome the world we can know we have eternal life. But this in no way assures one that they will continue to do so.

John: The point is; a person who has come to know the Gospel and the truth of Scripture could not have “peace” or “hope” if there isn’t assurance.

Bread From Heaven: Why not? I can have peace and hope at this moment b/c I am in friendship with God. I can have a certain amount of assurance at this moment in time. But I cannot have assurance of the future unless I have lost my free will and am merely a puppet of God. This is not what Scripture teaches.

John: Most of us who claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would spend our lives certain we could not possibly have measured up, once we are on our death beds.

Bread From Heaven: But we cannot “measure up”. We must try to please God throughout our lives and hope for Heaven. Confess and repent when we sin and know that Our God is Merciful. We hope in His Mercy.

John: Scripture clearly indicates that we should no longer fear the outcome for we have believed and have been Saved…Either we are; or we aren’t. There is no “middle ground” and there certainly isn’t “peace” in wondering…

Bread From Heaven: then why does St. Paul tell us

Philippians 2:12
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

How does a Catholic get to heaven?


Q. How does a Catholic get to Heaven?

A. By Faith and the Grace of God. Catholics get to Heaven by the power and grace of God. The good works that we do are in obedience to Christ and in order to purify ourselves so that we can become holy as He is holy. But it is all of Grace. We cannot do anything worth while on our own.But specifically GOD communicates His Grace to save and strengthen us to journey towards Heaven, in the following primary ways:

By being born again in baptism:

  • John 3:5 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
  • 1 Peter 3:20-21 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you

By receiving communion in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ

  • John 6:50 “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
  • John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.
  • John 6:53-58-So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.
  • He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will (CH)raise him up on the last day.
  • “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
  • “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
  • As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.
  • “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

By living life so that at death you are friends with God. This means that you die without mortal sin on your soul and live life so as to avoid mortal sin. But if we sin we must confess mortal sin to a priest in the sacrament of confession with true repentence and avoid it in the future.

MORTAL SIN

  • I John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.

SACRAMENT CONFESSION

  • John20:22-23And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

Did God Only Choose Some People to Be Saved?



Q. My Protestant friend showed me Romans 9 for the doctrine of election and it was very convincing. I myself have noticed a lot of places in the bible where the word choosing or chosen is mentioned in the New Testament. I would really appreciate it if you could please help me out.

A. Yes, Romans 9 is very convincing when you just read it with their interpretation in mind. But if their interpretation is correct: that God has chosen only some to be saved THEN:

-This Creates arrogance in those convinced that they are God’s chosen ones, even though they have NO OBJECTIVE PROOF -Negates the doctrine of free will and makes those chosen mere puppets of God

-the book of Timothy must not be infallible scripture since it says:

1 Timothy 2:3…God our Savior, 4 who desires that all men be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

-And the same must be true of the hundreds of warnings in scripture not to fall away. See –>Can We Lose Our Salvation? -All of the IF passages in scripture are meaningless

These are MAJOR and SERIOUS problems. Roman 9 CANNOT contradict other scripture. If it seems to, then it is the INTERPRETATION that is wrong. The proper interpretation does not jump out at you but St. Paul wrote Romans and other books where he must have contradicted himself if the Calvinists have the correct interpretation.

This conflict was very foundational in my losing faith in Protestantism and entering the Catholic Church. My husband, who is still Protestant wrote a two volume book refuting Calvinism. It goes against so many scriptures you have no idea. Do not let the fact that your friend can recite verses from memory intimidate you. I am sure your friend is a lovely person and very sincere but he has been deceived. Earlier in Romans St Paul says,

Romans 2:6-11 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”

(This contradicts the doctrine of FAITH ALONE. How can this be reconciled to the arbitrarieness of God the way your friend interprets Romans 9 Written by the SAME PERSON To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. Who gets eternal life? Those who do GOOD not those who are chosen puppets unable to fall away. )

8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism

That contradicts Calvin’s interpretation of Romans 9 I wanted to start with something by the very same author, St Paul in Romans 2 that contradict Calvinism. This is a huge topic. Now I will comment on Romans 9.

Romans 9:11 or though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that (Z)God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

(We Catholics too beleive that salvation is by the grace of God. It is not b/c of works of the Law. Paul uses this example b/c it was 400 years before the giving of the Law to Moses Paul is emphasizing here that works of the Law do not indebt God to the person. The Lord freely chooses to be merciful. He is sovereign and cannot be coerced by the works of man. Paul cannot be saying here either that good works do not matter b/c he would be contradicting what he said in Romans 2 above and James 2 also, “Faith without works is dead” )

12it was said to her, “(AA)THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.” 13Just as it is written, “(AB)JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”

(If this is taken literally it contradicts John 3:16 For God so loved the world. And I John 4:7 God is Love Who does God hate? those who do evil. God does not just choose to hate some people for no reason. By His foreknowledge He Knew what Esau would do. A God who loves and hates individuals for absolutely no reason is NOT the God of Sacred Scripture. This scripture does not reveal why God hated Esau. It is Protestant interpretation to say that it was just arbitrary b/c God decided before time to send Esau to Hell along with everyone else He arbitrarily chose NOT to elect.

14What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15For He says to Moses, I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He (hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, “(AL)Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”

( Much can be said here but it is extremely important to read this account in Exodus where Pharoah hardens his own heart in Ex. 5-9 three times before God confirms him in this hardened state. This was not as arbitrary as it sounds in Romans. And of course Paul KNEW the scriptures backwards and forwards. But Peter warns in :

II Pet 3:15-16 “just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Romans 9:20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22What if God, (BFHU:this is hypothetical, it is NOT a dogmatic statement of how God works) although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

This passage v. 22-24 is VERY important b/c of the Greek used. It can be translated as you see above which dovetails with the Calvinist view that God arbitrarily elected some for Heaven and some for Hell. However, these verses can also be translated differently and in a way that aligns with the rest of scripture and Catholic teaching. vessels of wrath prepared for destruction– Consider this. Vines Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words-the word translated “prepared” (other translations are made, fitted etc.) is the Greek word KATARTIZO.

KATARTIZO–to make fit, to equip,prepare…in Romans 9:22 it is in the Middle Voice which signifies that those referred to fitted themselves for destruction (as illustrated in the case of Pharaoh who hardened his own heart first is accurately presented in the R.V. in the first part of the series of incidents in the Exodus narrative, which records Pharaoh’s doings: only after repeated and persistent obstinancy on his part is it recorded that God hardened his heart). -Vines p 106 under “Fitted”

Interpreting these verses that the vessel “fitted themselves” for wrath or glory removes completely the idea that God was arbitrary. But this is diametrically opposed to the Calvinist doctrines of Predestination, Limited atonement etc. and other Protestant beliefs in Faith Alone, Grace Alone. These verses and the goal of this chapter is to get it through to the Jews that God loves the Gentiles too. He wanted to have mercy on them as well. And by His sovreignty He could and would have mercy on them as well.

Do Catholics Have to Work Their Way to Heaven?



Q. Would you explain to me the Catholic belief concerning the book of Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8-9.

A. I would be happy to explain Ephesians 2:8-9. First, lets read it.

Ephesians 2:8
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I am guessing that you are a Protestant and that the reason you have asked me to explain this verse is because you have been taught that no one can do any good work to earn their way into Heaven just as Eph. 2 says. But that Catholic believe that they must do good works to earn their way into Heaven. That Catholics believe in a Works Salvation rather than a Salvation by Faith in Jesus

I want to be very clear. I am an ex-Protestant. I was a zealous Sola Scriptura Protestant and was taught the “Catholic believe in works salvation” mantra.

What we were taught about the Catholic Faith is not True! Ok so what does the Catholic Church teach then?

WHAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHES CONCERNING SALVATION AND WORKS.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Contrary to what you have been taught, no well formed Catholic believes that we must earn our salvation through good works. But many Catholics are not well taught and confuse the two issues of salvation and good works, which we were “created in Christ Jesus to do…”

And the Apostle James tells us

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself….”19 You believe that God is one You do well; even the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

The stumbling block for Protestants is that they see obtaining Heaven as a one-step process–Salvation by Faith.

But Catholics are taught that obtaining Heaven is at least a two-step process.
1. Salvation by Faith.
2. Perfection/sanctification/ holiness/ purification.

As James says, faith is perfected, by works. Jesus did not just tell us to get our own souls to Heaven. He gave us a mission on Earth. But Salvation itself, becoming a part of the Body of Christ, is by Faith. But we believe, with James that FAITH MUST BE PERFECTED BY WORKS. The GREAT COMMISSION MUST BE ACCOPLISHED WITH WORKS.

But the possibility of salvation, the obtaining of salvation; and even Faith itself is a GIFT that cannot be earned.

Works Salvation/Works Righteousness
Do You Have to Be Baptized to be Saved?
Can We Lose Our Salvation?
Confession to God Alone? Scripture Alone?
Atonement, Salvation, & Temporal Punishment

No One Can Pluck Us Out Of the Father’s Hand



Becca:Also when we as believers accept God’s gift of salvation we are sealed in His hand. This is made clear in John 10:29 “No one can pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

BFHU:Of course no one else can pluck us out of God’s hand. But we have the free will to reject Him. How do you reconcile your belief in Once Saved Always saved with the following verses?

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5″I am the vine; you are the branches. IF a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 IF anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 IF you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. … 10 IF you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends IF you do what I command. … Love each other.

Romans 11:22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, IF you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

Hebrews 6:4-6 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, IF they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

2 Timothy 2:12 IF we endure,we will also reign with Him;
IF we deny Him, He also will deny us;

Hebrews 10:26 For IF we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,


And there are many many other “IF’s” related to the promises of God. These warnings and those below are for a purpose. Those who believe that once you are saved you are always saved ignore hundreds of warning verses in the NT.

Matthew 24:13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.


This exhortation to endure to the end or overcome is repeated over and over again in Revelation.

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,


Why does the apostle say “fear and trembling” if there is no possibility of losing salvation?

1 Corinthians 9:27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.


In context this prize is eternal life. If Paul mastered his body to avoid disqualification how much more should we?

Luke 8:12-14 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

2 Peter 3:17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.


Why the warnings NOT to FALL AWAY if it is not possible?

This I John verse supports the Catholic doctrine that there are two types of sin–mortal/deadly and venial. And many of Paul’s epistles also mention deadly sins which deprive one of attaining Heaven or eternal life. Through willful and full knowledge a person who commits a mortal sin/grave sin loses their salvation and is dead in their sin.

1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death There is a mortal sin; I do not say that he should make request for this.

Atonement, Salvation, & Temporal Punishment for Sin



Q. I would like to ask you about the Atonement and forgiveness, the Mass, Salvation and temporal punishment.

The Catholic view of the Atonement is that when Jesus died on the cross of Calvary he died for the Eternal puinishment of Sin. So when A Catholic sins either Mortally or Venially and then repents and goes to a Catholic priest for the sacrament of penance and gets Absolution he is let off the Eternal puinishment of his Sins BUT he has to work off OR Expiate the Temporal Punishment of his sins by Prayers and indulgences and if he does not work the temporal punishment off in his/her lifetime then he/she will have to expiate them in Purgatory.

I have described these Catholic beliefs to Protestants, Anglicans and Eastern orthodox Christians and they think that it is a Load of HOG WASH.

They do not believe in temporal puinishment or in a Fire-Purgatory where sins that have been absolved in confession are punished and paid for in Purgatory or in this life.

BFHU: It may not be actual fire but something signified by the pain of fire.

They all believe that when jesus died on the Cross he died for ALL OUR SINS and all the punishment due for them.

Catholicism seems to them a SAD RELIGION because you have to spend most of your life avoiding sin and then when you sin you have to worry about expiating or working off the temporal punishment for your sins and if you do not do it during your lifetime then YOU GET NAILED IN PURGATORY!!!!

BFHU: All a very small price to pay for an Eternity in Heaven. This life is very short by comparison. We can have an easy life for 80 years but then as Jesus said, “you will have received your reward” I’ll take my reward in Heaven. Thank you very much.

Then there is Salvation. Most evangelical protestant believe in ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED. JUSTIFICATION is a once for all declaration of forgiveness FOLLOWED BY SANCTIFICATION and then INSTANTANEOUS GLORIFICATION AFTER DEATH.

Catholics on the other hand believe that Salvation is a process begun in Baptism and strengthened by the GRACES OF THE SACRAMENTS, prayer, holiness and good works as well as ongoing repentance.
Then at death there is the PARTICULAR JUDGEMENT and then either heaven, Purgatory or Hell.

The Mass also plays an important role in the Salvation of the living and the dead in the intermediate state of Purgatory.
It is a true, proper real and PROPITIATORY SACRIFICE ( I.E. SIN FORGIVING SACRIFICE ) Which benefits the living and the dead.

Each mass is getting the Catholic closer to Heaven and then there will be many Masses said after his/her death also for his/her eternal salvation.

To Protestants this all complicates things as they believe that all their sins are forgiven by Christ once for all sacrifice and that they are SAVED and will go to Heaven when they die.

BFHU: Many of them don’t even think it is important to examine their consciences either.

Traditional Catholicism would say that Salvation has different tenses in the New testament in that WE WERE SAVED when Christ died for us on the cross PAST TENSE. Then we are also being saved, PRESENT TENSE, OR in a state of Salvation by being members of his body the Church. We were called to this state of salvation when we were baptised and we will be saved FUTURE TENSE after the final judgement IF WE HAVE WALKED WORTHY OF OUR CALLING.

I just wanted to share these thoughts and ideas with you and I would be very grateful if you would like to add or comment on what I have stated here.

Dear Philip,
Nice to hear from you again. The way you explained these ideas is pretty much on target. The Catholic Church would describe Purgatory as a purification from the sin but expiation has also been used historically. Of course, the other religions think it is hog wash b/c they do not like these ideas. But, they line up much more with the reality of sin and punishment in the real world than their view of NO CONSEQUENCES WHATSOEVER FOR THE MOST EGREGIOUS SINS AS LONG AS YOU LOVE JESUS.

In the real world if I tell a lie and feel sorry afterwards and ask for God to forgive me. He does. But the consequences remain. If someone finds out I have lost someone’s trust in my honesty. Even if no one finds out I have lost a bit of self respect. If not then I might lie more until I do finally suffer obvious consequences.

If I rob a bank and get caught I go to jail even if Jesus has forgiven me. If I don’t get caught I live in fear of getting caught. If not I will continue in crime until I do get caught.

If I have an abortion I might suffer permanent physical damage, or be unable to retain a pregnancy I want later, and/or suffer the guilt of knowing deep down inside that I killed my baby, even if I love Jesus.

Why would it be any different or should it be any different when we offend an Eternal and Holy God. If Jesus had to suffer and die for the consequences of sin, why shouldn’t we take up our cross and follow Him?

You might find these posts interesting:

Do Catholics Have to Work their Way to Heaven?
Works Salvation/Works Righteousness
Do You Have to Be Baptized to be Saved?
Can We Lose Our Salvation?
Confession to God Alone? Scripture Alone?

Faith is all We Need?



Ryan: I have to disagree with. If you strip everything away, the one thing that is left at the core is a persons faith in Christ. It’s a yes or no question that is simple enough to get into heaven.

Romans 10:9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

BFHU:

James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and NOT BY FAITH ALONE.

This is the only place is scripture that faith and alone appear together.

Once again, this is standard Protestant proof texting to make a point without considering how this verse needs to be in harmony with other verses in scripture. So when we find verses that seem to contradict each other it is our understanding that fabricates the contradiction. Our understanding must be expanded in order to assimilate all of scripture in such a way that contradiction is dissolved.

The Romans passage Ryan quotes is emphasizing a point about Justification. But Salvation is a multifaceted concept. We need to take all of Scripture into account so that we can comprehend all of its many facets. Otherwise our understanding may be accurate up to a point but get the big picture totally wrong.

This reminds me of the six blind men who described an elephant. One man found the tail and said an elephant is like a rope. Another found the leg and said an elephant is like a tree. A third found the trunk and said an elephant is like a snake. A fourth felt the ear and said an elephant is like a fan. The fifth insisted that an elephant is like a wall b/e he felt the side and the sixth, feeling its tusk said that an elephant is like a spear.

Since I was a Protestant for forty years and a diligent Bible student I am convinced that the Catholic Church gives us the big picture, the whole TRUTH. Below is more of the James 2 passage that does not fit well with Protestant Calvinism.

SCRIPTURE:

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder (Are the demons saved by Faith alone?) 20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and NOT by faith alone.

RYAN: I understand how you can justify doing works. Any Christian should not only feel obligated to do works, but should be actively participating in them to strengthen their walk with Christ and encourage and lead others. But I believe that we disagree in the fact that works can save a person from hell. If there is anything more that one must do besides believe in Christ and His resurrection, it completely takes away the purpose of Christ. Why would he come to save us if we can do it ourselves through works?

Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

BFHU: James clearly says that we are NOT justified by faith alone. Jesus alone has atoned for the eternal consequences of our sin.

Ryan: But I believe that we disagree in the fact that works can save a person from hell.

BFHU: We DO NOT believe that our works save us. Christ saves us by his death and resurrection. The concept that Catholics believe they must work their way to Heaven is not true at all. So, we do agree on this after all.

Ryan: If there is anything more that one must do besides believe in Christ and His resurrection,

BFHU:We believe that our works help to purify us and help us to become more Holy by the grace of God. But we do not believe that our works are able to make God indebted to us and obligated to save us. NO. It is all of grace. The Protestant concept of Sanctification is very close to the Catholic idea of the necessity of Good works.

Ryan: it completely takes away the purpose of Christ. Why would he come to save us if we can do it ourselves through works?

BFHU:You have been taught to believe a false dichotomy. The fact that there is more that we must do does not in any way take away the purpose of Christ. He DID have to save us. We cannot do it ourselves. So, once again we agree that we are unable to save ourselves. But that does not mean we DO nothing.

Could David have defeated Goliath without God? Did David do it by himself? What would have happened if David did not DO anything?

The Israelites were saved from the angel of death in Egypt. How? By the grace of God. But what happened to those who did NOT DO anything? did not kill and eat a lamb and put its blood on the doorpost. Just like eating a lamb and putting blood on the doorpost is not a cause and effect slam dunk way of warding off the angel of death in general, their action DID effect their salvation by the command and grace of God.

Christ has done all that is necessary to offer salvation to ALL MEN. But not all men will be saved. Why? Because not all men will DO & Be what they must in order to access this great gift of salvation.

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

God does His part and we have our part to do.

Scripture vs. the Catholic Church:Faith vs. Works



Constantine:
SCRIPTURE
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8
CATHOLIC CHURCH
Faith is an act of man. (CCC 154)

BFHU: Once again, this is standard Protestant proof texting to make a point without considering how this verse needs to be in harmony with other verses in scripture.  So when we find verses that seem to contradict each other it is our understanding that fabricates the contradiction. Our understanding must be expanded in order to assimilate all of scripture in such a way that contradiction is dissolved. The Ephesian passage is emphasizing a point about GRACE. But as we see in James this was taken to an extreme. It is not Grace OR Works (or acts of man) but it is BOTH GRACE and WORKS together.

SCRIPTURE:

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder               (Are the demons saved by Faith alone?)                                                                            20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and NOT by faith alone.

Miracle of Yom Kippur/Miracle of Eucharist



Several years ago I read Roy Schoeman’s book Salvation is from the Jews. He tells the story of his conversion to the Catholic Faith. He was formerly a devout Jew. I was struck with his story about the Jewish Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur. I had never heard of this before and I was skeptical. So I contacted a university library and paid for copies of the references in the Talmud (Yoma 39) and Zohar ((Vayikra, Section 3). Mr. Schoeman’s quotes were absolutely accurate. I would like to share it with you on this Good Friday.

Excerpted from:Salvation is From the Jews by Roy Schoeman pp. 130-132.

Both the Talmud and Zohar contain accounts of how in the days of the Temple, the High Priest would once a year–on Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement”–enter the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifice for the atonement of the sin of all Israel. Both mention the “miracle of the scarlet thread, in which a scarlet thread would miraculously turn white as the sign that God had accepted the sacrifice. From the account in the Zohar (Vayikra, Section 3, condensed)

All the sins are (taken) away…. on this day, the defilement of the soul and of the body…All that day…God makes atonement for Israel and purifies them from all their sins and they are not accused before Him…On this day the priest….makes atonement for himself and his house and the priests and the sanctuary of all Israel…They used to know by a certain thread of scarlet if the priest had been successful…It was known by the thread changing its color to white, when there was rejoicing above and below. If it did not, however, all were distressed, knowing that their prayer had not been accepted.

The scarlet thread turning white would be the sign that God had accepted the sacrifice and forgiven the Jewish people their sins (“though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red they may become white as wool”–Isaiah 1:18) Yet the Talmud itself reports that forty years before the Temple was destroyed, this great miracle, which gave divine confirmation that the High Priest’s sacrifice had been accepted taking away the sins of the Jewish people, ceased to occur. The passage from the Talmud reads (Rosh Hashanah 31b):

Originally they used to fasten the thread of scarlet on the door of the Temple court on the outside. If it turned white the people used to rejoice, and if it did not turn white they were sad…For forty years before the destruction of the Temple the thread of scarlet never turned white but it remained red.

The Temple was destroyed about 70 A.D.; hence the miracle ceased to occur at about 30 A.D., which is precisely when the crucifixion took place—the crucifixion that replaced the sacrifices of the Old Covenant with that of Jesus on the Cross. According to the New Testament at the very moment that Jesus died on the Cross the curtain of the Temple that separated off the Holy of Holies was rent in two, symbolizing the end of the efficacy of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. It is the Talmud itself that unwittingly confirms this when it recounts that from that time on—forty years before the desruction of the Temple in 70A.D.–the scarlet thread never again turned white.

And in the New Covenant we have the miracle of transubstantion at every celebration of the Sacrifice of Christ.

Below are two online sources of this practice and it’s extinction.

Tabernacle in Branson
Later on in Temple history a certain ritual was added to all of this, using three scarlet woolen ropes. One scarlet rope was tied to the horns of the sacrificial goat, one was tied to the horns of the scapegoat and one hung from the front of the temple. After all the Yom Kippur sacrifices were completed by the High Priest a mighty miracle took place. The scarlet rope hanging from the temple supernaturally turned “white”. This was God’s sign to the Israelites that their sins were forgiven, conforming to Isa. 1:18, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow”.

However, immediately after the crucifixion of Yeshua (Jesus) and for the next 40 years until the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the scarlet cord never turned “white” again. This, too, was God’s answer to the Israelites – that there was no need for that to happen any longer because the sacrifice of Yeshua, the “blood of atonement” that He shed on the tree of sacrifice, put an end to the Mosaic sacrificial system.

Wild Olive
The Talmud, the Jewish sacred writings second only in importance to the Tanach, record that one of the sacrificial animals had a scarlet cord tied around its neck, which turned white when GOD had accepted atonement for the people. This miracle occurred every nearly every year for around 1500 years but did not occur again from the year Jesus was crucified until the Temple was destroyed and all Temple worship ceased. (Talmud yoma 39a)