18 June, 2011

Church criticisms discussed with "Darrin"

(Darrin) “Jesus did not found the Catholic church. The church began with Jews. Actual Christ followers.”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, most of the early Church was made up of converts to Christ from the Essene sect of Judaism. Some came from other Jewish sects. As an example St. Paul was a Pharisaical Jew who preached and converted the Gentiles.

One cannot deny that the foundation of all Christianity through His Church is based on Christ’s words to St. Peter before the disciples. There is no doubt from the construction vernacular that Jesus was instructing them to build a Church with them as the foundation stones and Himself as the cornerstone. He built no other Church as no other was needed because the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic, Church derives its perfection from Him through His promises. He prayed that we all be one within this Church. He said this Church would endure until the Parousia. He said of this Church that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. He said that He would be with this Church until the end of time. The Scriptures confirms these promises saying that this Church is the “pillar and ground of the truth”. He did not plan for the Church to be without leadership after the apostles died but provided that they choose successors to replace them in the enduring Church. This is confirmed it the book of Acts.

One can suggest that this Church is not the Church that Christ gave these promises and authority to but who else can support a claim that they are the true church represented by these promises if not the Catholic church. Some will suggest that the true church is the Gnostics or the Arians? Certainly remnants of those churches remain in modern incarnations of these heresies but can one claim the enduring characteristic promised by Christ? There is certainly no evidence that anyone can make a legitimate claim to Christ’s promises other than the Catholic Church. Some critics may claim that the reason that the Catholic Church has endured is because of political connections, but the truth is that it has endured because of the miracles of our Lord who persuaded a Pagan emperor to stop his persecution of the Church and not by some agreement of men. It is hard to persuade someone who is intent on your annihilation. Only God could convict the heart of the Pagan Emperor Constantine.

(Darrin) “Burning at the stake. Does the name John Huss mean anything to And even "IF" you were correct about them wanting to preserve the so called correct translation. Does that warrant burning at the stake? Not very Christian like. Or are you denying the church ever burned anyone?? There are many other, but thats good enough. ”

(Cristoiglesia) It is funny that you would mention Jan Huss. I am very familiar with Him as I was a Moravian (Hussite) for 50 years of my life before coming home and becoming a Catholic Christian. Hus was not burned at the stake by the Church which asked for mercy for him after declaring him a heretic at the Council of Constance. He was convicted, condemned and burned at the stake by secular authorities and not the Church as you have claimed.

(Darrin)” Latin was the common language of what people? Not Europe.”

(Cristoiglesia) Latin in the Middle Ages was the language of the educated people who could read all over Europe. People were much more likely to read Latin than any other language if they read at all.

(Darrin) “You are right about one thing....Jesus did say people would turn to false teachers to satisfy their desires. The Catholic church teaches tradition and the Pope are equal to if not exceeding in authority with the bible.”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, Jesus did prophesy about the Protestant rebellion in 2 Tim 4:3. The Bible is a part of Sacred Tradition that St. Paul told the Church to hold fast. St. Paul did not try to divide Sacred Tradition and neither does Christ’s Church. The Pope is the prime minister of the Church appointed by Christ as an enduring office of the Church which fulfills the Scriptures and the prophecy of Isaiah. The Pope is not the primary teaching authority of the Church but instead it is the Magisterium. He only teaches infallibly when speaking ex cathedra which has only been done a few times in the 2000 year history of the Church and always in full accordance with the Magisterium and the whole of Sacred Tradition which is including the Scriptures.

(Darrin) “You pray to Mary to intercede. Why?”

(Cristoiglesia) The simple answer is because the prayers of the righteous are of great benefit to us according to the Bible. No one has ever been more righteous than the blessed mother of God.

First of all it is disingenuous to state that the practice of praying for each other has no biblical foundation, we are instructed in Scripture to have a prayer life for others as it is part of God’s commandment to love one another.

(2Co 5:8 DRB) But we are confident and have a good will to be absent rather from the body and to be present with the Lord.

The Catholic Church does not teach that it is absolutely necessary for one to ask for the intercession of saints for salvation. The Church does teach that prayer to God is necessary for salvation for all believers. For a Catholic it would be wrong to ignore the liturgical worship offered to God at feast days for the saints and the prayers asking for their intercession.

The Communion of Saints is a dogma of the ancient Church and is recorded in the apostles Creed. It simply states that the faithful because of their relationship with Christ are alive even after the death of their flesh and worship with us. To us the Church is made up of the Church militant who represents all those believers living out their hope in the flesh.

(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.

(Phi 2:13 DRB) For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.

It consists of the Church Suffering who are those who are temporarily in need of further purgation from sin so that they may enjoy the presence of God.

(2Ma 12:46 DRB) It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

Lastly, the Communion of the Saints consists of those who have won the race:

(Phi 3:14 DRB) I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus.

Their immortal souls are in heaven in God’s presence:

(Rev 5:8 DRB) And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

The universal stream connecting all of God’s creation is His love, which we take on in our baptism into our journey towards sanctification. This is not an emotional but a desire placed in us by the Spirit of God that endures as a desire for those other than ourselves and this love extends even to our enemies. This is truly a love that comes only from God and is a foreign concept and nonsense to those who have not received God’s salvific grace. This desire within our souls does not end with the death of our flesh but continues into eternity where the saints through their intercession in prayer encourage us in our race and assist us to endure unto our union with God.

I think that some people of faith, who do not understand the Communion of Saints, somehow believe that asking saints to pray for us is detracting from our love or our trust in God. In truth it is impossible, if we truly love as God commands and has given us the grace to understand, not to pray to those whom we love and in turn we expect them to return that same love to us by praying for us and presenting our prayers to God.

(Darrin) “Jesus said no one comes to the Father but by me. Not Mary to Jesus to the Father. “

(Cristoiglesia) As you saw from the commentary above we do exactly as the Bible says as the blessed mother intercedes and takes our prayers to Her Son for our benefit.

(Darrin)“You bow down to mud puddles that give an image of what you think might look like Mary.”

(Cristoiglesia) Really? When did I do that? Don’t be ridiculous and immature.

(Darrin) “I hate to tell you Mary was not a white western or European woman, but you portray her as such in your statues.”

(Cristoiglesia) She is also portrayed as Hispanic, black and Indian. She is the mother of all of us and is portrayed as such in different cultures.

(Darrin) “I wont even get into the idol worship.”

(Cristoiglesia) Why not? The Church condemns any kind of idol worship. Catholic Christians are forbidden to worship anyone or anything but God. Read the Decalogue where it is forbidden as a mortal sin.

(Darrin) “Talking about false teachers.....How about bowing to the Pope or even a statue of the Pope? I hate to tell you. He is a sinner just like you and me.
I suppose we can get into all kinds of other heresies, but you will find a way to dismiss them, so what is the point.”

(Cristoiglesia) We bow to the Pope out of respect for the divine office he holds which is ordained by Jesus Himself. Yes the Pope is a sinner. Why would you or anyone else think that he is not? The Church has never taught that the Pope is not a sinner. What do you mean all kinds of “other” heresies? You have not identified a single one. I will address any you can allege.

(Darrin) “You worship Peter. Upside down cross on the Popes chair.”

(Cristoiglesia) As I said before the Church forbids idolatry in any form. We do not worship any creature like the Pope. Of course there is an upside down cross on the Pope’s chair. It is the symbol of his office and signifies the manner of his death in Rome. After being condemned to death St. Peter requested that he not be crucified like our Lord as he said he was not worthy to be treated the same way. Instead he asked that he be crucified upside down and the Roman authorities honored his request, thus the upsides down cross as the symbol of St. Peter.

(Darrin) “The New Testament was completed and compiled at the end of the 1st century. The Catholic church laid claim to it 200 years later.

(Cristoiglesia) It seems as if you do not know the history of the Bible.

In first century Jerusalem there were at least four OT Canons in use by different Jewish Groups. There was the Canon of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Ethiopian Jews and the Diaspora/Essene Jews. Jesus and the disciples used the Septuagint which was the Canon of the Diaspora/Essenes. We know this because it is quoted in the New Testament. This Canon continued to be the Canon of Christians until after the Reformation and, in fact until about 200 years ago when the Protestants adopted a condensed version of the Canon eliminating the Deuterocanonicals from their Bibles. Even the AKJ originally contained the complete Christian Canon. It has been said by critics of Christ’s Church that the Deuterocanonicals were never believed to be inspired and just the opposite is true. The decision by Christians as to which books are inspired and useful for teaching was decided at the African Synods in the late fourth and early fifth century. There was never a question about their inspiration.

The OT Canon chosen by the Protestants is actually a Jewish Canon not chosen by the Jews until after the establishment of Christianity as a result of the spread of Christianity to slow the growth of the new group in Jerusalem after the fall of the Temple in 70AD. Until then as I said previously there were many Canons in use. The adoption of the Canon missing the Deuterocanonicals united the Jews against the Christians was decided in the Jewish Council of Jamnia because the Deuterocanonicals referred too strongly to the Messiah fulfilled in Christ.

Some Protestants will claim that only the Jews have the authority to choose Canon but the Church deferred that decision to Christ and the disciples and it is clear through biblical research, that the Septuagint is the Bible used by the first century Church and quoted in the NT Scriptures. The fact that Protestants choose to adopt the Canon that was approved by the same Jews that accused our Lord that resulted in His crucifixion suggests the source of this confusion as from the father of lies who led the Pharisees to accuse Christ and petition for His punishment. It is another way that Satan divides the body of Christ and separates the faithful denying Christ’s prayer that we all be one in Christ through His Church. The Christian Church has always used the Septuagint as Canon and never the truncated version of modernist Protestants.

Some Protestants erroneously believe that Catholics added to the Bible with the Deuterocanonicals but this shows an ignorance of their own history and the history of Christianity as witnessed by Christ’s Church. The facts are that the Protestants removed the Deuterocanonicals and even considered strongly to remove some of the NT books currently in use by Protestants and Catholics. Fr. Martin Luther was in favor of removing the book of James because it conflicted with His heretical man made doctrines of the “Solas”, Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. The heretic Ulrich Zwingli wanted to remove the Gospel of John because of its teaching of the commandment to Eat Christ’s Body and drink His Blood which contradicted his view of a real absence of Christ instead of a real presence in the Eucharist. Even Fr. Martin Luther could not endorse such a departure from Scriptures and deny that Christ is truly and really present in the Eucharist in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

(Darrin) “So you are saying Catholics were not Jews or Gentiles.....Really?”

(Cristoiglesia) No, I said that the first converts were from the Jews and the Gentiles. When they became Christians and followers of Jesus they were then Catholics or a part of perfected Judaism. They came under the New Covenant of Christ and into that familial relationship where He abided in them and He in them.

(Darrin) “If the first followers were Catholics, why is this term not mention in the book of Acts or anywhere else? Or even in the writings of Josephus? No they called themselves Christians and/or Jews.

(Cristoiglesia) The followers of Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch which was the bishopric of St. Peter. These Christians were first called Catholic by St. Ignatius who was the third bishop of Antioch late in the first century or early second century in His letter to the Smyrnaeans while on his way to be martyred in Rome. St. Ignatius was the disciple of St. John and of St. Peter along with his friend Polycarp. St. Ignatius defined the Church as those who gathered faithfully around the bishop saying, “where the bishop is there is the Church”. Thus, without apostolic succession there is no Church. Christians are the followers of Christ and not Jews as you presume. When they believed and followed Christ they became Catholic Christians through their Baptism into the Corpus Christi.

Josephus was a secular writer and historian and not a Church historian.

(Darrin) Paul called himself a Jew among Jews and he was a Christ follower.

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, he was identifying himself as a former Jew believed to be among the sect of the Pharisees. When He became a follower of Christ He became a Christian and a part of the familial relationship In Christ called the New Covenant since the Old Covenant was completed on the Cross when Jesus said “it is finished” before He gave up His spirit.

(Darrin) “All I can say is, all this side stuff really wont matter as long as you are trying to do all the required works to merit heaven.”

(Cristoiglesia) Pelagianism has been condemned centuries ago by the Church and has never been a part of the teaching of the Church and is a heresy. The Church forbids required “work” to get into heaven. However works are meritorious to us when provoked by the Holy Spirit.

Initial salvation comes through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit bringing us to faith and sanctification. This grace given by God is unmerited and certainly not earned. Catholic teaching is that all works are not the result of our own efforts but are produced by His grace. At judgment God will see our works produced by His grace as meritorious. Through God and His grace working in our lives we earn our salvation. Catholic teaching in regards to merit is very similar if not identical to the Protestant monergistic view, meaning that all is of God, approach rather than a synergistic approach, some of God and some of us, as Catholics get accused. The actual view of Catholics is that God does all the work and we do all the work. Catholics give all the credit to God but also understand that their response to grace is deserving of merit.

The way I see it is that we respond to God’s promises He is obligated to fulfill a debt He has incurred through His promise. We through His grace put faith and trust in those promises. Since God promises us eternal life by our faith then He has created an obligation for Himself. It is God’s promise that makes it a merit and not our work because God represents to us justice and truth and by us responding to His commands through the Spirit He has created a debt deserved by crediting us with merit even though it is through Christ and the Holy Spirit that we responded to His commands and will.

(Darrin) And please dont forget to sacrifice Christ again in every church around the world since His one time sacrifice was insufficient.

(Cristoiglesia) Christ can never be sacrificed again. Once is indeed sufficient and this one sacrifice is made present in every Catholic Church around the world. Jesus said, “Do this in “anamnesis” of me which is to make the past as a present reality.

The Passover Seder was completed on the cross with the words, “It is finished” meaning the Old Covenant relationship with man but it began in the upper room. Jesus was acting as both priest and as the victim. Jesus instructed the disciples to do this in “remembrance” of me in most English translations. However “remembrance is not a direct translation but what we call an approximation since there is no word in the destination language that has exactly the same meaning. So “Remembrance” is as close as one can get to the original Koine Greek. The Greek word that is being translated is “anamnesis” which does not mean to recall a past event to memory as is the meaning of “remembrance”. Instead it means that a miracle is occurring where the past or the future is being made present. It represents an act that transcends time and place. In the case of the last supper Jesus is making the future present. Today when we receive the truly real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity Jesus is making the past present. We are literally present at the foot of the Cross when the Eucharist is celebrated.

Jesus NEVER said to commemorate His sacrifice or that the elements were symbols but instead in the most literal language possible said, “This is my Body, This is my Blood.” Actually, Jesus was speaking literally and was certainly not using symbolic language that might indicate that what He was saying is not literal. Jesus was present at the Last Supper in both a corporeal natural way and in a sacramental way in the elements He consecrated. This is identical to the way He is present today in the Eucharist. It truly is a mystery as to how He can be present in these ways simultaneously but nonetheless it is a religious truth. We could never understand it but our inability to understand does not make this impossible. It is no different than believing God is omnipotent even though there is no way to comprehend this with our finite minds and intellect. Certainly the creator of all things can make Himself into the bread and the wine.

There is no indication from any teaching of Christ on the Eucharist that the bread and the wine are symbols but instead Jesus said, “This is my Body, this is my blood”. He never said that the elements of the bread and wine were symbols but used literal language instead. Had this been His intent He could have easily said exactly what you claim but He did not do so.

(Darrin) “By the way, how many things do you have to do to merit heaven? Baptism, confession, rosary.... I know there are several more. I really hope that works for you.

(Cristoiglesia) I know that you are the victim of false teachers and what you think you know as facts are false. We all, as Christian, attain heaven by God’s grace alone. No amount of works merit heaven but the Bible warns us that faith without works is dead faith and that we cannot be saved by faith alone but also by works prompted by God’s grace. Remember that the only works that are condemned in Scriptures are the works of the law which are likened to filthy rags. It is said in context as a referenced to the Korban law which is a part of the Mosaic Law. Nowhere does the Bible condemn works but instead encourages works and obedience to Christ’s commandments. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

13 June, 2011

Christian Faith and Life discussed with "Jim"

(Jim) Thank you again for your thoughtful response. I believe that I told you that I have no bone to pick with the Catholic church, and would love nothing more than to be convinced that they are of the truth. I was pleased to see how you articulated that salvation is indeed by the grace of God from beginning to end. I have no problem with church tradition being of value if there is no contradiction between it and scripture. As for purgatory, I wish that it could be clearly established in the pages of scripture. I know there is a passage in 1 Cor. 3, but it seems to be metaphorical (works tested by fire) of what happens at the bema seat judgment of believers.

(Cristoiglesia) I came home to the Catholic Church from a different perspective. I believed and had a studied conviction that the Catholic Church taught falsely and in fact was nothing that it claimed to be. However I was blessed with a Berean spirit and set out to prove the Church wrong. In the process I was surprised and indeed blessed to learn that the Church did not teach, practice or have a faith that was contradictory to the Scriptures but was instead the personification of those teachings. It teaches a perfection that still astounds me and convinces me of the veracity of the Church, the Bible and Christ. The Church teaching is a mosaic that fits together perfectly with the Bible and Christ. Only from a divine source protected by divine authority could this be possible in my humble opinion. I have been unable to find and support any contradiction between what the Church teaches and the Bible and Christ.

I think that Purgatory is clearly established in Scriptures but I would agree that it is not explicit in Scriptures. But, the implicit teaching of the process of purgation is overwhelming and results in the fact that the Doctrine of Purgatory is one of the most biblically supported of all Doctrines and is in perfect accordance with systematic theology and sound biblical hermeneutics. There is no place in the entire Bible where the Doctrine of Purgatory is contradicted in any way. But the lack of contradiction does not make it a sound teaching but instead what makes it sound teaching is that it is the only logical conclusion that one can come to when examining the implicit evidence from Scripture. The only conclusion that one can come to from Scriptures if there is no Purgatory is that heaven will be a lonely place if it does not exist and that God’s salvific grace will not extend as generously among His faithful as we hope.

(Jim) I teach a class for new believers. In this class I teach them that initial saving faith is best defined in Romans 10:9, which requires surrender to the authority of Christ, and belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus as the basis for their righteous standing before God. I also teach them that baptism is the non-optional expression of their acceptance of God's grace. I teach them that they are justified by Christ's blood, and are united with Christ in His body in His death and resurrection and the reality of their new identity is best described in Galatians 2:20. But while we are a new creation in Christ, we still struggle with the flesh which is able to be overcome by the indwelling Spirit as expressed in Romans 8, especially verse 11.

I conclude my introductory course with the response to God's grace that is found in Romans 12. I summarize it into three primary thoughts: Presentation, transformation, and occupation. Presentation is when we present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice in a 100% commitment to following Christ. Transformation is where we turn away from the world and embrace the renewing of our mind by saturating ourselves in the teaching of the word of God. The word of God is like fuel, and the Spirit of God is like oxygen. And together they create a mighty flame which is able to burn away the corruption of sin that lingers in our flesh and give us the mind of Christ. And finally, occupation is to re-channel our energies in the transforming power of the Spirit to embrace the spiritual giftedness God has given us to exercise within the church, and to live a life of love as outlined in verses 9-21. At the end of this course, I present each one with a small funnel, inscribed with "be a funnel" and "Romans 5:5". The point of this is to be a regular reminder that the outworking of their new life in Christ is that they are to be a channel of God's love through the Spirit to the world we live in.

(Cristoiglesia) I think that your class is beneficial to new Christians as they are often confused as to what is happening to them. We recognize the call of the Holy Spirit to faith but are confused as to why and the particulars to that call which may inhibit our response. You should emphasize their having openness to the changes the Spirit is in their lives.

I am especially approving of the fact that you emphasize their call to service of God and responsibility to preach the Gospel by example and by Word. This is very Catholic in nature as every Catholic is taught and instructed to go and preach the Gospel at each Mass as a part of the priesthood of all believers. I am also encouraged to see that you teach them to recognize and to use their spiritual gifts to the benefit of God’s kingdom on earth.

I am pleased that you are teaching the importance of Baptism and the biblical teaching on being renewed as new creatures and being born again through Baptism. It is through our Baptism that we are cleansed and made worthy of the familial relationship with Christ that we maintain through contrition and repentance when we are seduced by sin. But I am disappointed that you are not teaching them God’s other commandment which is to eat His truly real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity so that we may abide in Him and He in us as His great feast provides through His grace. He says that unless we eat His Body and Drink His Blood we have no life (eternal) in us. St. Paul emphasizing its importance said that unless we discern His Body at this great feast then we bring condemnation on ourselves by receiving it unworthily. In John 6 it is recorded that Christ said that this hard teaching must be discerned through a special gift by our cooperating with His Spirit communicating with ours. It is said that we can never understand His teaching through our carnal senses of reason or intellect but by being sensitive to the spirit instructing us when we remain in Him. All Christians should communicate to non-believers by asking, “have you eaten His Body and drank His Blood so that He can abide in you and you in He as He commanded?” It is sad that so many professing Christ in their lives denies this plainest of His teaching and refuses to do as He says but instead accept a metaphorical representation and perversion of His great feast. They should take notice that if the Israelites had done the same at Passover and only ate a metaphorical representation of the lamb that they would have brought death of their first born on their family. So too do so many refuse His commandment and the saving grace that His feast provides. You may also emphasize the importance of a systematic prayer life and the necessity of their life being one of constant prayer to God for themselves and others.

(Jim) I have had some former lifelong Catholics in my class and they are a source for some of my understanding. Often they are brought to tears as they recount the system of works that they believe they were taught. Either they were poorly taught, or they poorly understood. God bless, Jim

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, there are many Catholics that are Catholics in name only and often claim to be Catholic out of a cultural association instead of a spiritual one. They are often not the faithful ones who are properly catechized and who attend Church and practice their faith. They profess Catholic Christianity because they were born into a family who are culturally Catholic but know nothing of what being a Catholic Christian entails in devotion and practice. God Bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

Discussion of Authority, Justification and Purgatory with "Jim"

(Jim) “[Catholics hold church tradition as an equal authority to scripture. That is not a lie. And as a result, many of our differences come out of this.

I looked up the Catholic catechism online and this is what I found in regards to the issues I addressed in my post:

"As a result the church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from holy Scripture alone. BOTH SCRIPTURE & TRADITION MUST BE ACCEPTED & HONORED WITH EQUAL SENTIMENTS OF DEVOTION AND REVERENCE."

That's what I said.]”

(Cristoiglesia) Of course, this is not at all what you said. You said instead, “Catholics hold church tradition as an equal authority to scripture. That is not a lie. And as a result, many of our differences come out of this.”

The Church is saying that it is not equal authority but the same authority undivided. Both come from the same source and as a result they must be treated with equal devotion and reverence as Sacred Tradition. Both are the teaching of God which is the deposit of truth and revelation to the Church. We have recorded this in the Bible so that there can be no mistake about Christ’s teaching. St. Paul recorded that we are to hold fast to all Sacred Traditions whether transmitted orally or in writing. The Bible also records that not all things taught by Jesus are written down in the Scriptures but some are a part of the deposit of the oral tradition that led the Church for 400 years without the benefit of the written tradition. Certainly the Church being the very Church that Jesus founded would hold all of His teaching that was delivered to them as having authority. What I took issue with is that you suggested erroneously that the Church separates these two forms of God’s Word which would be in violation of what is written by St. Paul. It is as if you are accusing the Church of heresy similar to the unbiblical Protestant heresy of Sola Scriptura which seeks to divide God’s Word and marginalize the oral Sacred Tradition of not having authority over the faithful. From the teaching of the Scriptures it is clear that God’s revelations to man are from both the written and the oral means and both are His divine Word not to be divided or marginalized. Naturally when one accepts only a part of the Sacred Tradition that God delivered to His Church whether the oral or the written, such an approach invites error and in doing so the tens of thousands of Protestant sects are sure to be the genesis of error in their approach to divide and marginalize one part of God’s Word over another. Is this not what St. Paul warned against? Of course it is. If the Church did not take this approach then from a biblical mandate of accepting all of God’s Word as equal in devotion and reverence then any of its teaching would be and should be treated with skepticism as it would not be following the entirety of God’s Word as defined by St. Paul which we are to hold as equal in devotion and reverence. If the Church divided God’s Word then the Church could not be called the “Pillar and foundation of the truth” which the Bible authoritatively says it personifies. Division and confusion are the tools of Satan whether it is used to divide God’s Word or the Corpus Christi.

(Jim) “[2. Catholics believe that we are saved by faith and works. They've told me this. So that is not a lie. And that is contrary to scripture. Faith produces works through the power of the Spirit. But works do not produce salvation.

CCC 2027: No one can merit initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and others all the graces needed to attain eternal life."

This sounds to me like God's grace gives us the ability to merit eternal life by our works. Am I mistaken?]”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, of course you are mistaken. All salvation is by God’s grace and not by men’s works. There are no works pleasing to God unless man is moved by God’s grace and even then this is a sign of one’s cooperation with grace. As St. James says in His epistle, “Faith without works is dead faith”. Initial salvation comes through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit bringing us to faith and sanctification. This grace given by God is unmerited and certainly not earned. Catholic teaching is that all works are not the result of our own efforts but are produced by His grace. At judgment God will see our works produced by His grace as meritorious. Through God and His grace working in our lives we earn our salvation. Catholic teaching in regards to merit is very similar if not identical to the Protestant monergistic view, meaning that all is of God, approach rather than a synergistic approach, some of God and some of us, as Catholics get accused. The actual view of Catholics is that God does all the work and we do all the work. Catholics give all the credit to God but also understand that their response to grace is deserving of merit.

The way I see it is that we respond to God’s promises He is obligated to fulfill a debt He has incurred through His promise. We through His grace put faith and trust in those promises. Since God promises us eternal life by our faith then He has created an obligation for Himself. It is God’s promise that makes it a merit and not our work because God represents to us justice and truth and by us responding to His commands through the Spirit He has created a debt deserved by crediting us with merit even though it is through Christ and the Holy Spirit that we responded to His commands and will. Protestants error is in believing that God does not desire our obedience to the Spirit when we respond with good works. They confuse these divinely inspired works with the works of the law that do not gain us merit just as the Scriptures teach.

(Jim) Catholics believe in the doctrine of purgatory. That is no lie. They believe that it is the purging of sin from our soul. The bible teaches that we have been crucified with Christ and that our old soul life has died and we have raised up with Christ unto newness of life. And the spiritual life that now lives in us is the Spirit of Christ. Spiritually, we are perfect and fit for heaven. A cursory reading of the latter half of Romans 7 reveals to us that our struggle with sin in this life is centered in our body and the members of our body. So when we lay aside our body at death, there is nothing left to be purified. We have at that point been set free from the presence of sin and are ready to enter into heaven.

Purgatory: "CCC- On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified here on earth or after death in the state called purgatory."

(Cristoiglesia) Of course, we believe in Purgatory and yes it is a process of purgation (cleansing) that removes any signs of sin. Even venial sins leave a residual stain on the soul that must be removed before one can enter into the beatific vision. This is made possible by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross which was and is for man’s atonement.

This explains the Doctrine of Purgatory in more detail:


You said, “The bible teaches that we have been crucified with Christ and that our old soul life has died and we have raised up with Christ unto newness of life. And the spiritual life that now lives in us is the Spirit of Christ. Spiritually, we are perfect and fit for heaven.”

That is correct but the Bible also tells us that sin separates us from that familial relationship that you paraphrased from Scripture. We continue to sin our entire lives. We are reconciled back into that relationship which sin has compromised by contrition and repentance. This is called by the Church the Sacrament of Reconciliation which our Lord ordained by giving that power and authority to His Church when acting in persona Christi.

I think you have illustrated why we should not approach the Bible in a “cursory” way. The Bible should never be understood in a haphazard or superficial way as you suggest or error will certainly result as you have stood witness. You are in error when you say that the Bible teaches that we can secure our salvation by simply confessing assent to belief in Christ. This act or work of the law does not secure salvation even when prompted by God’s grace as is always the case. We must also endure in this salvific grace to be saved. We must abide in Him and Him in us to be saved. The Bible states that Jesus said that to do this we must eat the great feast that He provides which are His truly real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. We must approach this salvific promise with fear and trembling according to St. Paul and must not presume a debt owed to us but instead a gift of grace given to merit our salvation. We must not fall away through sin or in any way abandon this free gift of salvific grace. A sinful soul will not enter into the beatific vision even in a cloak of Christ’s blood as you suggest but must indeed be purified and made perfect by Christ’s sacrifice. We are made pure and holy by the cleansing of His blood instead whether in this life by confession and reconciliation or through purgation in the life to come. This is the teaching of His Word through His Church. God Bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph