09 October, 2009

Discussion with "Bourn Again" about confession and salvation

(Bourn again) "Membership in the Militia means complete dedication to the Kingdom of God and to the salvation of souls through Mary Immaculate." -Pope John Paul II

"We have an advocate in Mary that the father, Son, and Holy Spirit cannot say no to. It is impossible for them to say no to her! -Fr. Stephan Scheier

(Cristoiglesia) I assume you have some problem with these statements. It is difficult to respond unless I know why you think these statements are inappropriate. They are both speaking of the ministry of the blessed mother of God and how she intercedes for us by prayer for us.

(Bourn Again) Jesus never gave the power to forgive sins to the Apostles. No one can forgive sins except God (Mark 2:5-11).


(Mar 2:5) And when Jesus had seen their faith, he saith to the sick of the palsy: Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.

(Mar 2:6) And there were some of the scribes sitting there and thinking in their hearts:

(Mar 2:7) Why doth this man speak thus? He blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins, but God only?

(Mar 2:8) Which Jesus presently knowing in his spirit that they so thought within themselves, saith to them: Why think you these things in your hearts?

(Mar 2:9) Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say: Arise, take up thy bed and walk?

(Mar 2:10) But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (he saith to the sick of the palsy):

(Mar 2:11) I say to thee: Arise. Take up thy bed and go into thy house.

I do not think that you do not believe that Jesus has the power to forgive sins. Certainly we both agree that He does and the verses you gave confirm this fact. If Jesus has this power a God I am sure that you can agree that He has other Divine powers as well. He exercises this power in giving the apostles and the successors the authority to forgive sins acting in persona Christi for He knew that this continuing authority would be needed in the ministry of His Church. But when one hears the Words of the priest that they are forgiven it is the will of Jesus that does the forgiving.

Christ instituted the sacraments purposefully. The sacrament called reconciliation or penance is what we call our actions when we go to confession. Going to confession and confessing to a priest is the normative way of reconciling oneself back into God's family when we have committed a mortal sin. It is the biblical way corresponding to Jesus' teaching as recorded by the apostle John:
(Joh 20:22) When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

(Joh 20:23) Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

What we learn from John is the authority given to the priests is not only to forgive sins but also to retain sins. Jesus commanded the authority to be used. It is the duty given by Jesus for the priest to measure the contrition of the penitent and act accordingly.

However, one must repent and pray sincerely to God as an act of contrition before one enters the confessional. The priest represents Jesus by acting in persona Christi and for the entire family of God represented by the Church militant who is harmed by the sin of another. No sin is private but all sin affects others. Jesus described this relationship as a vine with Him as the vine and we as the branches (John 15:5). If one member of the branch is sick then all
the branches are affected and suffer as a result. Because of our familial relationship with each other Jesus created a means of confession so that all those affected in His family are represented by the priest as is God. The acts of sin and forgiveness are not private matters.

(Bourn again) We don't need to do penance to be saved either, so even if the church meant it in a different way, how many people are out there thinking if I don't do this, my sins aren't forgiven? Where does the church get off saying you have to do so and so, biblically speaking?

(Cristoiglesia) The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it best:

1485 "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week," Jesus showed himself to his apostles. "He breathed on them, and said to them: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained"' (Jn 20:19, 22-23).
1486 The forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism is conferred by a particular sacrament called the sacrament of conversion, confession, penance, or reconciliation.
1487 The sinner wounds God's honor and love, his own human dignity as a man called to be a son of God, and the spiritual well-being of the Church, of which each Christian ought to be a living stone.
1488 To the eyes of faith no evil is graver than sin and nothing has worse consequences for sinners themselves, for the Church, and for the whole world.
1489 To return to communion with God after having lost it through sin is a process born of the grace of God who is rich in mercy and solicitous for the salvation of men. One must ask for this precious gift for oneself and for others.
1490 The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God's mercy.
1491 The sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of the penitent and the priest's absolution. The penitent's acts are repentance, confession or disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to make reparation and do works of reparation.
1492 Repentance (also called contrition) must be inspired by motives that arise from faith. If repentance arises from love of charity for God, it is called "perfect" contrition; if it is founded on other motives, it is called "imperfect."
1493 One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and with the Church, must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins he remembers after having carefully examined his conscience. The confession of venial faults, without being necessary in itself, is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.
1494 The confessor proposes the performance of certain acts of "satisfaction" or "penance" to be performed by the penitent in order to repair the harm caused by sin and to re-establish habits befitting a disciple of Christ.
1495 Only priests who have received the faculty of absolving from the authority of the Church can forgive sins in the name of Christ.
1496 The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
- reconciliation with the Church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.
1497 Individual and integral confession of grave sins followed by absolution remains the only ordinary means of reconciliation with God and with the Church.
1498 Through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory

(Bourn again) And when you were saying it was God who forgives through the preist, that would mean God would mediate through him. There is one mediator between God and man, Jesus.

(Cristoiglesia) No, the priest as I said before acts for Christ therefore he is not a mediator.

(Bourn again) The Catholic church contains many saved Christians, but it is not entirly correct. There are people in it who have fallen away. I hope for there sake that I am wrong, and you are right, but I have never heard Jesus say "you have the power to give sins and authority will be given you you succesors".

(Cristoiglesia) Catholic Christians are forbidden to assume who is to be saved and who is not. Salvation is based on the state of one’s soul at death. If one’s soul is sanctified and justified it will be saved. Only God can judge. It is difficult to deny that Christ’s authority given to the apostles is not passed down to their successors as we can clearly see this being done in the book of Acts. It is illogical that Jesus creating a Church that He promised would endure for all times free from apostasy and the “pillar and foundation of the truth” would not be given the continuing authority. This is truly the solid foundation Jesus spoke of with the disciples as the 12 foundation stones of the Church and Christ Himself as the high priest and cornerstone of the Church. Otherwise Jesus would have built His Church on a foundation os sand if it was not established to endure through apostolic succession.

(Bourn again) What would happen to me? I'd go to the unbiblical purgatory? Jesus saves us once and forever, even if we sin. If you are truly saved, you can never lose it. Of course there are the seeds that feel among the rocks, but I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, so there is no way I could lose it. If I am wrong in my accusation, I apologize, but this is what it sounds like to me what you are saying.

(Cristoiglesia) Of course we can lose our familial relationship with God. He does not force us to continue in our faith once received. Such teaching is not the teaching of our Lord or of Scriptures. If what you say was true even the demons would be saved as they believe. There are only two eternal destinations which are heaven and hell. Satan loves it when people believe in the heresy of Antinomianism like yourself as he has that person in his power and can and can easily tempt them into sin which will indeed separate one from their heavenly promise. A sinful soul cannot enter the presence of God.

Catholics believe that all of their works are produced by God. Once saved, always saved is a kind of lawless salvation where there is really no true sanctification but a covering up of a filthy sinful soul in the belief that it can sneak into heaven under the guise of holiness instead of actually having been sanctified and created anew. When one studies Scriptures, instead of using the Scriptures as a group of proof texts to support one’s fleshly desires, misunderstanding of God’s Word is less likely and false teaching is not promulgated. We should be more like the Bereans in not trusting those who are teaching us so that we will not fall for false teaching such as OSAS.

I know all the verses used to support lawless soteriology views. In view of contradictory Scripture how can a Calvinist support or justify their views. Allow me to illustrate what I mean with the following:

All through both Testaments of the Bible we are warned of the dangers of sin and that sin will separate us from eternity. The earliest verses making this point are as follows….

(Gen 2:16 DRB) And he commanded him, saying: Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat:

(Gen 2:17 DRB) But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death.

If we examine verse 17 we see a striking similarity between hat Satan taught and what is taught by those teaching OSAS. They preach that we simply eat of the fruit of emotional ascension to faith for a moment in our lives and our consequent sins will not condemn us. Here is what the prophet Ezekiel says about a righteous man and see if it sounds like the righteous are guaranteed eternal security……

(Eze 3:20 DRB) Moreover if the just man shall turn away from his justice, and shall commit iniquity: I will lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die, because thou hast not given him warning: he shall die in his sin, and his justices which he hath done, shall not be remembered: but I will require his blood at thy hand.

(Eze 18:24 DRB) But if the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity according to all the abominations which the wicked man useth to work, shall he live? all his justices which he hath done, shall not be remembered: in the prevarication, by which he hath prevaricated, and in his sin, which he hath committed, in them he shall die.

The same teaching is repeated by St. Paul in His letter to the Romans lest one say that this prophecy only applies to the OC……

(Rom 8:13 DRB) For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.

(Rom 6:16 DRB) Know you not that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are whom you obey, whether it be of sin unto death or of obedience unto justice.

St. Paul’s teaching is full of warnings against lawlessness and false security regarding our salvation as well as the teaching of St. James…….

(Gal 5:19 DRB) Now the works of the flesh are manifest: which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury,

(Gal 5:20 DRB) Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects,

(Gal 5:21 DRB) Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.

(Gal 6:8 DRB) For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit of the spirit shall reap life everlasting.

(Gal 6:9 DRB) And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing.

(Jam 1:14 DRB) But every man is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured.

(Jam 1:15 DRB) Then, when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin. But sin, when it is completed, begetteth death.

(Jam 1:16 DRB) Do not err, therefore, my dearest brethren.

We know that both St. Paul and St. James were speaking to and about believers as St. James confirms in the following verses lest there be any doubt….

(Jam 5:19 DRB) My brethren, if any of you err from the truth and one convert him:

(Jam 5:20 DRB) He must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way shall save his soul from death and shall cover a multitude of sins.

Jesus taught of the necessity of keeping the Word and of the consequences of not keeping the Word once received…..

(Joh 8:51 DRB) Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever.

(Joh 11:25 DRB) Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live:

(Joh 11:26 DRB) And every one that liveth and believeth in me shall not die for ever. Believest thou this?

(Luk 8:13 DRB) Now they upon the rock are they who when they hear receive the word with joy: and these have no roots: for they believe for a while and in time of temptation they fall away.

Now, those teaching the false doctrine of OSAS will defend their views with saying that those who continue in lawlessness never were saved to begin with and it was a false eternal security that they received. The Bible clearly contradicts such a belief because it states that those who fell away were believers……..

(Act 17:11 DRB) Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, who received the word with all eagerness, daily searching the scriptures, whether these things were so.

(Act 17:12 DRB) And many indeed of them believed: and of honourable women that were Gentiles and of men, not a few.

Even St. Paul recognized that the righteous were in danger of falling away when He said:

(1Co 9:27 DRB) But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.

St. Paul clarified his view and teaching in the following ……

(Phi 2:12 DRB) Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.

Even in the salvation chair passage of John 3:16 and also John 11:25-26 we find that in the Greek that a continuing tense is used in the word believe which clearly shows that we must “continue to believe” and not a one time belief for eternal security.

Here are a few more verses that emphasize our continuing belief and sanctification and warnings that the faithful can and often do fall away…..

(Rev 3:2 DRB) Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die. For I find not thy works full before my God.

(Rev 2:10 DRB) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil will cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried: and you shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death: and I will give thee the crown of life.

(Rev 2:11 DRB) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: He that shall overcome shall not be hurt by the second death.

(1Jo 5:16 DRB) He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask: and life shall be given to him who sinneth not to death. There is a sin unto death. For that I say not that any man ask.

Obviously once saved always saved is an untenable theological position.

It seems as if you do not understand purgatory. This will explain it to you:

There is a common Protestant misunderstanding of purgatory. At least one protestant minister, John Wesley, spoke of perfectionism in this life, possible but rare. He is one of the few to proclaim that one can be sanctified in this life and he left the Moravian Church over this issue after a rebuke by Count Zinzendorf for this teaching.

People in purgatory are already justified by receiving the supernatural eternal life into our souls through Baptism making us a part of the Body of Christ. Those in purgatory have accepted Christ by faith and have not rejected Him by unrepentant mortal sin. It is a place where one is purified by fire (Mal 3:2). Imagine the joy of being in purgatory and knowing that you are there because you have passed judgment and are assured of being in the presence of God in heaven. Purgatory is not an eternal destination, there are only two, heaven or hell.

We should not think of purgatory as some kind of legal punishment for past sins as it would be under the old law. Those in purgatory are already new creatures changed by Christ’s grace, they are the adopted children and part of God’s family in purgatory one receives final discipline and cleansing preparing one for the perfection of heaven. Catholics believe that sanctification is a process and is not completed when one comes to belief. So purgatory is not a suggestion that Christ’s atonement is insufficient but that we have not yet completed our sanctification through the grace of Christ.

Cleansing or sanctification is a gradual process and we must endure to the end to be saved.

(Mat 10:22 DRB) And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.

(Mat 24:13 DRB) But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.

(Mar 13:13 DRB) And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake. But he that shall endure unto the end, he shall be saved.

Catholic soteriology recognizes that for some of us the process was not completed at death or that we died with unrepentant sin.

(Heb 9:27 DRB) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment:

The judgment is our eternal destiny and for those whose name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life, heaven is assured. But we know that one must be free of sin to be in God’s presence.

(1Ti 6:14 DRB) That thou keep the commandment without spot, blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,

It may be that one is not prepared to be in our Lord’s presence as we may still be with spiritual shortcomings or temporal effects of forgiven sins on our soul making it necessary for some form of purification to enter heaven in God’s presence. Since this is a process of purgation it is called purgatory and it is in keeping with prophecy of the prophet Habakkuk who said that only that which is holy may enter heaven.

(Hab 1:13 DRB) Thy eyes are too pure to behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity. Why lookest thou upon them that do unjust things, and holdest thy peace when the wicked devoureth the man that is more just than himself?

St. Paul also taught of a process of purgation which may involve suffering on the soul of Christians and in his first letter to the Corinthian Church he describes the process of purgation after death.

(1Co 3:10 DRB) According to the grace of God that is given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation: and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

(1Co 3:11 DRB) For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid: which is Christ Jesus.

(1Co 3:12 DRB) Now, if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble:

(1Co 3:13 DRB) Every man's work shall be manifest. For the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire. And the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is.

(1Co 3:14 DRB) If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

(1Co 3:15 DRB) If any mans work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

St. Paul speaks metaphorically that the results of sin that remain on one’s soul is like “wood, hay and straw” and are burned away in the process of final purification to be received in the presence of the Lord. St. Paul also speaks of one’s works as “gold, silver and precious stones” which are refined and retained.

This passage reminds me of what Christ said in the following indicating that some sins may be forgiven after death.

(Mat 12:32 DRB) And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, nor in the world to come.

Purgatory is also related to the parable of the unforgiving servant which is as follows…

(Mat 18:32 DRB) Then his lord called him: and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me:

(Mat 18:33 DRB) Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee?

(Mat 18:34 DRB) And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt.

After telling the parable Christ emphasizes His message lest it be misunderstood with this warning……..

(Mat 18:35 DRB) So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

Christ was warning us of the danger of a hard heart or anger making us unwilling to forgive others. We should acknowledge that these are the signs and example of a defective soul in need of purgation so that he that is imperfect may be in the presence of God and dwell in glory. (See CCC 1030-1032)

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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