27 May, 2013

Response to Matt Slick's "The Gospel of Roman Catholics" at CARM

(Matt Slick) “The Gospel for Roman Catholics

by Matt Slick

This paper is written in two parts.  The first explains and documents the Roman Catholic Church's position on justification.  The second part presents the true gospel in contrast to the Catholic Church's position.  If you want to go straight to the gospel presentation for Catholics, simply scroll down the page.

Because of the great emphasis on Sacred Tradition within the Catholic Church and because so many Roman Catholics appeal to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, the Word of God is often placed after the Catholic Church itself in relation to authority.  Because of this, many Catholics appeal to their works, in combination with the sacrifice of Christ as a means of being justified before God.  The Council of Trent expresses this plainly:

    "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema." (Canon 14).”

(Cristoiglesia) I see that you divide the Gospel as the Gospel according to Matt Slick and the Gospel according to Christ’s own Church. It is your knowledge attained over a few decades compared with knowledge attained over 2000 years by the Church. I see that you are continuing the work of the Humanist John Calvin who labored to create a syncretic blend of Humanism and Christianity. Calvin desired a god that served man rather than the orthodox God that man was created to serve.  Such is the legacy of Scholasticism which placed man at the center of all creation instead of God.

Now to your accusation against Christ’s Church….. It is clear in Scriptures that Jesus created and founded the Catholic Church. In His Word we learn through construction vernacular, that Jesus is the High Priest and cornerstone of the Church. We further learn that Jesus ordained the office of prime minister and appointed St. Peter as the first to hold that Holy office fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah in Chapter 22 of the biblical book he authored. He prophesied the establishment of an enduring office of prime minister as one of the signs of the true Messiah. Jesus in the process of fulfilling all prophecy indeed appointed St. Peter.

Mat 16:17-20(KJV)

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

It is significant to note that had not Jesus done this then it would have put into question His veracity as the Messiah. As an enduring office this holy office will remain until the Parousia when Christ will come again to judge the quick and the dead.

The twelve disciples are the foundation stones of the Church.

  Ephesians 2:20 (KJV)

20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Revelation 21:14 (KJV)

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Upon this enduring foundation of rock is built upon through apostolic succession is the Church.

This is testified to by St. Ignatius who wrote in his letter to the Smyrnaeans in describing the Church that, the Church are those who gather around the bishops. He said, “Where the bishop is there is the Church”. (St Ignatius was the disciple of St. John and St. Peter and served as the 3rd bishop of the bishopric of St. Peter at Antioch. Being the disciple of two of the disciples of our Lord was a unique privilege of only two people St. Ignatius and St. Polycarp. It is believed that he received holy orders from St. Peter himself. He was martyred by being eaten by the beasts in the Coliseum in Rome)

Matthew 7:24-29 (KJV)

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

This is Jesus speaking in parable of the firm and enduring foundation of His Church. This is the Church that the gates of hell will never prevail against. Indeed, this very same Church represented by apostolic succession endures to this day as testimony to the veracity of the builder Jesus Christ. So as one can easily see from the divine teaching that Jesus Himself is the cornerstone of the Church and authority over all. His Church by its divine mandate of authority from Christ is “the pillar and foundation of the truth”. And, thirdly the Bible of which the New Testament was written by the Church and about the Church, by divine inspiration, is the inspired Word of God to those of the New Covenant and God’s Kingdom established on earth. Combined with the Torah at the end of the 4th and early 5th centuries at the African Synods led by St. Augustine, the Christian Canon is established by the authority of Christ given to the Church. It is by the same authority of the Church to establish Canon that the Church has the authority to interpret the Canon and no other interpreter. Certainly the Bible tells us that the Scriptures are not for private instruction but are instead to be understood in the community of the Church.  So it is clearly by Christ’s teaching that the truth is from three sources:

1.       Jesus
2.       His Church
3.       Bible

Both the Church and the Bible are the result of the charism provided by Jesus and the indwelling of the Church by the Holy Spirit.

Your claim that the Catholic Christian depends on “works” for justification is simply a prevarication of and about the faith of Catholic Christians. Pardon me for stating the obvious but yours is a non sequitor argument against Catholics either illustrating ignorance or an attempt to obfuscate the true teaching and faith of Catholics. I pray it is the former.
(Matt Slick)Justification is the legal declaration by God upon the sinner where God declares the sinner righteous in His sight.  This justification is based completely and solely on the work of Christ on the cross.  We cannot earn justification or merit justification in any way.  If we could, then Christ died needlessly.  "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly," (Gal. 2:21).  Because righteousness cannot come through the Law (through our efforts of merit), the Bible declares that we are justified before God by faith:

    "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," (Rom. 3:28).
    "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness," (Rom. 4:3).
    "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness," (Rom. 4:5).
    "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).
    "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," (Eph. 2:8).

However, in Roman Catholicism, justification by faith is denied.

    "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified ... let him be accursed," (Canon 12, Council of Trent).

Which are we to believe? The Roman Catholic Church or God's word? 

(Cristoiglesia)What the Church denies and condemns is the heretical teaching that one is justified by dead faith or a faith where there is no evidence through the fruits of the spirit in evidence.  We are to believe the Church as it is the enduring Church which is the “pillar and foundation of the Truth” and not the doctrines of men like those taught by Mat Slick and John Calvin. These latter two sources are without any authority to teach. Only the Church has the authority from Christ to teach.

Some say that justification is a legal act of God in which He declares the sinner to be worthy of heaven even though he continues to be a sinful creature. In this view of justification there is no internal renewal or real sanctification whether instant or through a lifelong process but simply an external application of the justice of Christ.

To Catholic Christians and many other Christians, justification is understood differently. We understand from Scriptures that justification is not the covering of sin but the eradication and the beginning of true sanctification and simultaneous renewal. The soul is transformed into goodness instead of being a sinful soul with sins covered by Christ’s blood. We see Scriptures saying that forgiveness results in a complete removal of sins. The only time the Bible mentions the covering of sin is in the context of one man’s sin being forgiven by another. One should note that we have no power to forgive another’s sin, therefore the context is that we do all we can and cover or overlook those sins against us. In relation to God and His removal of sin the Scriptures use quite different terminology such as “blot out”, “blotting out”, “clears away” and “takes away”.

Catholics see justification as a rebirth and supernatural life in a former sinner:

(Joh 3:5 DRB) Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

(Tit 3:5 DRB) Not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost.

That creates an inner renewal of the soul:

(Eph 4:23 DRB) And be renewed in spirit of your mind:

Resulting in complete sanctification:

(1Co 6:11 DRB) And such some of you were. But you are washed: but you are sanctified: but you are justified: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.

Through this glorious process initiated by God’s grace the soul becomes beautiful, holy and worthy of heaven where nothing unclean is allowed. It is not an ugly sinful soul hidden under the blood of Jesus but instead one sanctified by Him and created anew for His glory.

Matt Slick) “Furthermore, the RCC states that justification is received not by faith, but by baptism.   The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph, 1992, that "...justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith."   This means that faith is not the instrument of obtaining justification; instead, it is an ordinance performed by a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

Furthermore, baptism is only the initial grace along the road of justification.  The Roman Catholic is to then maintain his position before God by his efforts.”

(Cristoiglesia) The Church does not deny justification by faith as you proclaim but we do proclaim that the benefit of the atoning sacrifice on the cross is that we  are cleansed of original sin and actual sin at baptism which creates a soul void of both actual and original sin. We are in a state of justification. The Christian after the initial justification of Baptism maintains that justification through  obedience and devotion that is the result of God’s continuing salvific grace.   

 (Matt Slick)  "No one can MERIT the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can MERIT for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods," (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), par. 2027).

The problem here is that the RCC is teaching us to "merit for ourselves and for others all the graces need to attain eternal life."  You cannot merit grace.  Grace is unmerited favor.  Merit is, according to the CCC, par. 2006, "...the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment..." CCC 2006.  This means that merit is something owed.  By contrast, grace is something not owed.  Therefore, the RCC is teaching contrary to God's word regarding grace and justification.

(Cristoiglesia) 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.

(Matt Slick) The sad result is that in Roman Catholicism, justification before God is a process that is maintained by the effort and works of the Roman Catholic.  This is a very unfortunate teaching since it puts the unbearable burden of works righteousness upon the shoulders of the sinner.  By contrast, the Bible teaches that justification/salvation is by faith.

    "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness," (Rom. 4:5).
    "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).
    "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," (Eph. 2:8).

(Cristoiglesia) You are either misunderstanding Catholic teaching on justification or are intentionally laboring to create a straw man to argue against that you can defeat with your arguments. The Church does not teach that it is by the sinner’s efforts that we are justified but instead the Church teaches that justification is by grace and faith. The Church condemned “works righteousness”  (Pelagianism) Council of Carthage 418AD, Council of Ephesus in 431 AD and the second synod of Orange in 529 AD.

Certainly the teaching of Jesus, His Church and the Bible is that  justification/salvation is by faith but not faith alone as the heretics teach.

(Matt Slick) The Gospel for Roman Catholics

The Gospel for Roman Catholics is the same as for anyone else and it is obtained by grace through faith in believing and trusting in Jesus alone, who is God in flesh, for the forgiveness of sins.  Salvation is not found in a true church.

(Cristoiglesia)I agree that there is but one Gospel for all men. We are called to be faithful and to believe and trust in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice. His sacrifice is sufficient for our salvation.

You say that “salvation is not found in a true Church”. Am I and others supposed to believe that it is found in a false counterfeit church like the sects of the Protestant rebels?  If salvation is not found in the true Church founded by Christ which is the Catholic Church then why did Jesus pray that we be one in unity in His Church?

John 17:20-26(KJV)

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

You would have us to believe that Jesus desires that we be outside of the Church He founded but Jesus clearly reveals His will of unity which is not seen in the 30,000+ sects of the Protestants and Restorationist  sects. Instead we see disunity and confusion among them. Each having some measure of truth dispersed among a greatness of heresy. You are clearly wrong by any measure as Jesus founded one Church built on an enduring foundation and not the sand of heresy as the Protestants but the solid foundation of the fullness of truth of the Catholic Church. The Bible says of this Church that the Holy Spirit protects it from doctrinal and error in moral teaching. Jesus truly says that we can put our trust in His Church as it is truly the “pillar and foundation of the truth” as the Bible clearly states. Jesus said in His colloquy at Capernaum and recorded in John 6 that we must eat his Body and drink His Blood for eternal life. That Body and Blood can only be confected by a valid clergy whom the Protestants reject.  So it is this divine feast and sacrifice of our Lord that Protestants are absent from. As a result they reject His Commandment that He says allows us to abide in Him and Him in us. He further says that unless we eat His Body and drink His Blood that we have no life in us. Protestants are absent from this continuous feast and sacrifice that we share in with Christ to the Father. Protestants cannot even discern the Body and Blood of Christ which St. Paul says condemns the non-believer. May our  Lord have mercy on them for refusing His sacrifice to the Father.

(Matt Slick) Salvation is not found in being good.   Salvation is not found in good works.  Salvation is not found in a sincere heart.  Salvation is not found in making up for past sins by efforts of restoration, or penance, or indulgences.  You can never do enough to please God.

(Cristoiglesia) God has created everything good including all of humanity. But, we are all born with a propensity to sin and the free will to resist that sin or embrace it. St. Paul addressed this in the following:

Romans 3:23 -For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God.

If one uses their free will to sin they are separating themselves further away from an eternity with God. Without repentance that will die in condemnation but if they live a life of repentance they will be saved by God’s grace.

Now, we know that God’s mercy is without limits but He is also just. Acknowledging this teaching we realize that we do not know who will be saved for sin may be private or public, both kinds of sin are known to the sinner and to God and it is by this unrepentant sin that we will be judged. We do know that all are called to salvation but that few respond fully to the call. We know that the path to salvation comes to a narrow gate where many will be unable to enter.

Mat 22:14- For many are called, but few are chosen.

Luk 13:24- Shall seek... Shall desire to be saved; but for want of taking sufficient pains, and being thoroughly in earnest, shall not attain to it.

Here are some of the fallacies of believing that all will be saved or that all good people will be saved, other than the fact that none of us are worthy of salvation on our own. It is natural for people to want to depend on God’s mercy alone for salvation but as I said before God does not provide mercy at the exclusion of justice. There are also those who believe that God will even save those who have no desire to be saved. This is an example of mercy without justice for it would not be just to save someone without a desire to be saved. He does not give mercy to those who do not desire it from Him. He allows us and indeed prompts us to come to Him by preparing us all to surrender to His law written on our hearts. This law is sufficient and without it no one would be convicted to follow Him and desire Him. Our conscience is formed by this law which is intuitive and not learned by hearing His Word or by anything but recognizing His creation which the Bible says is sufficient knowledge to come to faith and desire Him. In this we surrender to Him and become obedient to His will to desire Him. By that and a devotion to repent of our sins is sufficient for salvation. It is the path to the narrow gate that Scriptures teach. It is His grace through the Holy Spirit that we are called and convicted of His will which is contained in His law circumcised upon our hearts. His grace is not forced upon anyone but one must surrender to Him to receive it. It is a free gift that one can refuse and we must recognize that many will refuse His gift and fail to surrender to His law which has the result of one condemning them. So, as much as we desire as Christians that God’s mercy be extended to all people both good and bad, it will only be given to those who surrender to His law and recognizing His sovereignty while living in His will. It is by having a desire for His Grace and repenting when we fail through our sinfulness which results in His mercy.

For those who believe that all good people will be saved we must understand that none of us are good enough. We all sin through thought, word and deed. As a result it is only through Christ’s salvific work that we can be justified by our contrite repentance and be deserving of His mercy. We do please God when we are obedient to His will and we will have salvation on our last day if we are free of unrepentant sin. We do please God when we are obedient to His will and we will have salvation on our last day if we are free of unrepentant sin.

(Matt Slick) Because God is so infinitely holy and righteous, and because we are sinners, we are incapable of pleasing God by anything that we do.  In fact, our righteous deeds are considered filthy rags before God (Isa. 64:6).  You can do nothing to earn forgiveness or keep forgiveness.  Salvation before God is not administered to us through an earthly priest in the Catholic church by the sprinkling of water, or giving of penance, or recitation of formula prayers.  Salvation for the Christian is not kept through the effort of the person who hopes and tries and worries about being good enough to stay saved.

(Cristoiglesia) I guess you never read in the Bible that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

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

We are forgiven when we ask for forgiveness with a contrite heart.

(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.

(Matt Slick)Such error can only lead to despair and hopelessness and a desperate and unwarranted dependence on the Roman Catholic Church as the only means by which salvation can be distributed and maintained.

(Cristoiglesia) Jesus established His Church for the purpose of distributing His grace to the faithful. We do not distribute salvation but instead Christ’s Church provides the means by which through grace one may endure to the end in faith. The Church as a result represents hope and not despair and hopelessness that you claim but instead it is the fountain of God’s salvific grace.

(Matt Slick) In this error, people far too often seek to work their way to heaven by being good, by doing what the Catholic Church teaches them to do, by prayers to Mary, by indulgences, by the Rosary, and by a host of other man-made works.

(Cristoiglesia) It is by God’s grace that one is good and not by works although we are called to respond to God’s grace with works. In that way we reflect God’s love for humanity. We pray to fulfill God’s greatest Commandment to love one another so we pray for one another out of this love.  We invite others of the Church like the blessed mother of God to be our prayer partners as the Bible teaches that the prayers of the righteous are of great benefit to us and others. By indulgences we show contrition. When we pray and reflect on Christ through the Rosary it brings us closer to our Savior. Surely prayer is not a man-made work as Jesus gave us example to pray for one another. And neither are any of the other acts of devotion to God that you claim are man-made.  

(Matt Slick) Remember, in the RCC, salvation is through the Church and its sacraments, not through Jesus alone, by faith alone.

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, salvation does come through the Church and the Sacraments truly provide us with salvific grace to endure to final salvation.  Our salvation was atoned for by Jesus alone on the cross. Faith alone is a Protestant heresy that is condemned in Scripture. See the Epistle of James.

(Matt Slick) “This is exactly how the cults of Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses work who both teach that true salvation is found only in their church membership and in following the revelation and authority of their church teachers and traditions.
Are you tired of the works requirement?”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, but their Church was not founded by Christ for the purpose of the salvation of mankind like the Catholic Church. The Church is not only the fullness of truth but also the arbitrator of truth.

Matthew 18:17-18(KJV)

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

(Matt Slick) “In great contrast to the position of the Roman Catholic Church, if you want to be forgiven of your sins, once and for all, then you need to come to Christ (Matt. 11:28).”

(Cristoiglesia) God forgives all who come to Him with a contrite heart but He does not forgive those without contrition for their sins.

(Matt Slick)” You need to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior (John 1:12; Rom. 10:13).  You need to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins (John 14:14), and trust in Him alone and in nothing that you can do.”

(Cristoiglesia) Correct but this is not a onetime occurrence but an ongoing occurrence to endure to final salvation.

(Matt Slick) Remember, your good deeds have no merit before God (Isa. 64:6).

(Cristoiglesia) We do good deeds in response to God’s grace. We must maintain a living faith and not fall into a dead faith as St. James warns.

(Matt Slick) “Furthermore, if you have faith, it is because that faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29).  If you believe, it is because God has granted that you believe (Phil. 1:29).  It is not because you were baptized, or have been good, or have been sincere.  It is all of God.  The Lord must receive all the glory for salvation because it completely and totally rests in Him.  Salvation rests in Christ alone and it is received by faith apart from works.”

(Cristoiglesia) Correct except works are a response to God’sgrace.

(Matt Slick) Please read the following scriptures carefully.

        "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom. 3:23).
        "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Rom. 6:23).
        "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed," (1 Pet. 2:24).
        "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him," (2 Cor. 5:21).
        "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it," (John 14:14).
        "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29"Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls," (Matt. 11:28-29).
        "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name," (John 1:12).
        "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly," (Gal. 2:21).
        "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," (Rom. 3:28).
        "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness," (Rom. 4:3).
        "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness," (Rom. 4:5).
        "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life," (1 John 5:13).

(Cristoiglesia) Done

(Cristoiglesia)A suggested prayer

This suggested prayer is not a formula, but a representation of biblical principles by which you might better understand the true gospel and receive Christ as your Lord and Savior.  It is not a formula derived from Sacred Tradition or Stamped with the seal of the Roman Catholic Church's approval.  Its principles are derived from scripture:  we are sinners; God is Holy; we cannot earn salvation; salvation is a free gift; prayer to Christ; Jesus is the only way; receiving Christ; faith; etc.

    "Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner and that I have offended you by breaking your Holy Law.  I confess my sins to you Lord and ask forgiveness from you and do not ask anyone else to be forgiven of my sins against you.  I acknowledge who you are, God in flesh, creator, humble Lord, who bore my sins in Your body on the cross and I come to you alone and trust you alone, by faith, that you will forgive me completely of my sins so that I will have eternal life.  I ask you Lord to come into my heart, to be my Lord, to forgive me of my sins.  Lord I trust in you alone, in the work of the cross alone and not in any church, not in any saint, not in Mary, not in any priest, but in you alone.  Lord, Jesus, I receive you, and come to you, and ask you to forgive me and justify me by faith as I trust in you alone.     Thank you.”

(Cristoiglesia) Do you not see how this prayer is blasphemous before Christ who personally created the Church as the ark of humanity from and evil and seductive world? You insult the saints that have endured to final salvation and directly insult Jesus’ mother whose ministry given by Jesus to her from the cross is to lead humanity to her Son and to help the faithful in His Church to endure to final salvation.

(Matt Slick) If you are a Roman Catholic and have trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins, then welcome to the body of Christ.  Welcome to salvation and the free gift of forgiveness in Jesus.

(Cristoiglesia) We do trust in Christ alone for salvation.

(Matt Slick) Next, I strongly recommend that you read the Bible regularly, talk to Jesus daily in prayer, and seek to find a church that teaches and focuses on Jesus as Lord, Jesus as Savior, and sticks to the Bible alone.

(Cristoiglesia) You have described the Church except you have placed the Bible as an authority that it does not have without the Church.

Our Lord after his resurrection and before He ascended to heaven called together the disciples on a hill in Galilee and told them to teach all nations. Christ instructed them to teach all the doctrines, commandments and laws that He had taught to them. It is significant to note that these instructions are not constricted by the lifetimes of the disciples but was to be taught for all times which would be completed at the Parousia. This meant that the disciples were to have successors and that their oral teaching would be for all times protected by Christ which extended to their successors. In this way Christ assured that truth would be taught for all time to humanity. This was the great commission.

To those deep in Scriptures it seems quite odd that there are some who think that the disciples fulfilled their commission given to all by writing Scriptures and that they left no successors to continue the fullness of truth and the authority given by Christ in that commission. If this was the intent of our Lord it is odd that not all the disciples did what some suppose our Lord commanded which is to write Scriptures. In fact, only five disciples continued their teaching by writing Scripture. To those who believe that it is the Scriptures that continue the great commission then it is difficult to ignore that less than half of the disciples followed Christ’s commission. The disciple Matthew wrote a Gospel. John wrote a Gospel and three epistles. Peter wrote two epistles and James and Jude wrote one apiece. If the written Word was so important in Christ’s structure of the Church then it would be logical that there would be at least one epistle from Jesus; perhaps in which He would instruct us to give the written Word His only authority and not the 12 disciples as was His instructions in the great commission. But of course, it was obviously not His intent for His teaching to be spread only from written means but instead through the solid foundation He had built on which the disciples would continue to build with their successors which passed on the chrism from Christ through the disciples and their successors which has resulted in infallible truth for all times.

Another oddity for those who believe only in the written Word is why the Church founded by Christ existed for only a half century as a teaching Church and then is replaced by inspired books alone?

With changing circumstances it would seem reasonable that there be someone or some authority that can apply the apostolic teaching to the change of circumstances lest there be chaotic frustration instead of the application of truth. Take for example the doctrines; these doctrines may be studied with an almost equal danger of error as truth if there is no infallible teacher. An infallible authority would not restrict an enlightened development of truth for those who are seeking the question of what Christ meant in His teaching. Without it there is great possibility and indeed a certainty of error because there is not a word of Christ’s teaching that has not been subject to diverse interpretations. Many of these interpretations are compelling either by their scholarship or their application but are in contradiction of one another. Consequently the following question is illustrated by these facts; how are we to know the truth as these words surly are not enough for the truth to be known? Therefore it is necessary to have an infallible teacher to separate the diversity of opinions into the truth of Christ’s teaching. There must be revelation to satisfy the seeking soul instead of a growing set of diverse opinions and confusion. So, there must be an infallible teacher with the authority from Christ and of Christ as were the disciples for the truth to be known. The question is to those following Sola Scripture is whether the truth is essential or does it remain forever elusive depending on individual interpretation?

I believe the Scriptures demonstrate just how essential Jesus believed the truth to be. Before His death He gave certain men the authority to teach. He sent out the 72 disciples to teach with His authority. He said to them as well as the original 12, “He that hears you, hears me” which illustrates a transfer of the teaching by oral means to the Church across time to ensure the truth to all generations. It is through the oral teaching that the truth is found by the authority of Christ for truth. That truth is contained within the leadership of the Church and is today the Magisterium which is made up of the successors of those original disciples continuing the chrism given to them by Christ. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

20 May, 2013

Discussion with a Mormon about the Mormon doctrine of Godhood

(Nikki) “Your definition of Christian is incorrect.”

(Cristoiglesia) As I said before, the fundamental belief of Christians is that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity of one God which is made up of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This fundamental belief was defined and confirmed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD in response to the Arian heresy by the authority given by Christ to His Church.

Matthew 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Remember That Jesus gave to His Church the Paraclete that He promised to lead the Church from error.

John 14:16,266

King James Version (KJV)

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

(Nikki) “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ and I know that in my heart. So please don't cast judgments on me and tell me what I believe. You can't tell someone they aren't Christian just because they don't interpret scripture according to your tradition.”

(Cristoiglesia) I prefer for you to tell me what you believe and I will respond accordingly. If I err in that understanding I welcome correction as the truth is important in such a serious discussion that has eternal consequences. I do not have the ability or desire to judge anyone and I have no idea why you make such an accusation on me. However, you err by suggesting that the Church founded by Christ and His disciples does not have the authority to define who is a Christian and by what measure. The fact is that Jesus gave to the Church exclusively the authority to teach and the charism to do so without error. I am sorry that I did not explain myself thoroughly leading you to believe that it is I who has such authority from Christ as I do not individually.

The Church is the interpreter of Scripture and not I as it is not for the individual to interpret Scripture but it is the Church that was given that authority from Christ as I have previously given you the Scriptural proof of that authority according to St. Matthew in His Gospel. You are not a Christian because you reject the very nature of God and the authoritative teacher which is His Church. His Church at the Council of Nicaea, in response to the Arian heresy, confirmed the orthodoxy taught by the Church from the beginning of the Church at Pentecost.

 (Nikki) “Just because a pagan sun worshipper in Rome decided he wanted to unite Rome under one church (what became the Roman Catholic Church) and VOTED on what God's word should be interpreted as,they voted on the idea of the Trinity, 3 gods in one. But that is a man-made doctrine (not saying it is incorrect but it is not what scripture says, it is just what we interpreted).”

(Cristoiglesia) I assume you are speaking of the Emperor Constantine. Please correct me if you were not speaking of Constantine but you are quite confused about his desire according to history. As a result of what the Emperor Constantine saw as divine intervention in a lost cause of his battle he decided to issue the Edict of Milan which gave freedom of worship to all in the Empire. According to this Edict his desire was far from what you claim. His edict applied to both the Pagan’s and the Christians. You continue to err is stating that the orthodoxy of the Church is that there are three God’s in one. The teaching of the Church from the beginning is that there are three persons in one God so as not to even hint at the possibility of Modalism. Again, the Church spoke with the authority of Christ and as such to claim that it is man-made is blasphemous since the Bible states that the Church is truly the “pillar and foundation of the truth”. Unfortunately for you the LDS sect has no authority from Christ to interpret anything.

(Nikki) “LDS interpret the nature of the Godhead to be one in purpose...not in essence (like the trinitarian belief).”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, I am aware of the belief of the Mormons.

(Nikki) And that has been reaffirmed many times as I read the Bible and also by revelation through prayer. Even if you believe that the trinitarian belief is correct, that is fine. You are still Christian.”

(Cristoiglesia) Be very careful in believing that you are the source of truth instead of God or His Church. That is an almost certain way to fall into error. Whatever a person wants to believe about the nature of God is not “fine” as the truth is important and following the source of that truth is important also or Jesus would not have established His teaching authority, His Church, to avoid such error as not believing in the Trinity. What Jesus taught is that there is only one God and not the innumerable gods of the Mormon heresy. Christ’s Church is monotheistic and Mormonism teaches henotheism. Again I remind you, that the wrong belief about God is not “fine” and it is necessary to have a true faith in God rather than a false understanding of His nature. Being one of innumerable gods is profoundly different than believing in the one God of Christianity.

(Nikki) “And me believing that Jesus Christ is the son of God and our redeemer and that Heavenly Father is the father of all our spirits, and that the Holy Spirt leads and guides us to the truth of all things, that doesn't mean I'm not Christian or that you "need to pray for me".”

(Cristoiglesia) Actually it does mean that you are not a Christian in the orthodox sense. Additionally, a false faith in God by not accepting His teaching of the Trinity separates one from the heavenly promise of the Cross that all who “truly” believe in Him shall have eternal life. We Catholics have been lovingly praying for heretics for 2000 years.

(Nikki) “There is a character limit on what I can say in this box so I'm just going to end it with a quote that I'll send in a separate message...
Also just keep in mind it's not like I'm trying to convert you, I just want you to have a better understanding because your comment seemed really ignorant.”

(Cristoiglesia) I have a desire to learn what you believe and why. I want you to hear the truth but I am not trying to convert you to Christianity but to offer you an alternative to the lies about God that you have accepted from the man-made counterfeit LDS church.

(Nikki) "The Bible is a compilation of the books provided by ancient prophets, beginning with Moses, and then added to as each new prophet assumed his place in history. Thus the scripture became a growing thing. It was another pattern of the Lord.

That same pattern applied to New Testament times as well. Hence we have the Gospels and other scriptures of the New Testament. The Lord did not change his system.

Since the Lord is the same in all generations, the true church today also must provide new scripture in addition to the Bible."

(Cristoiglesia) It would seem from the quote you provided that it is an attempt to marginalize the authority of Christ as just another prophet and to deny that He is truly God. You suggest by this quote that Jesus was just providing new revelation to humanity and are ignoring His true purpose which was to fulfill prophecy that says that the Messiah will come to atone for the original sin of mankind and to institute a New Covenant with mankind that not only fulfills the Old Covenant prophecy in every way but also makes way for the Gospel received that says that through a true belief in Christ we shall have eternal life in Christ. Jesus did all of what was prophesied and is truly Emmanuel and the Lamb of God prophesied. As a result of the fulfillment of prophecy and the New Covenant instituted by Jesus on the Cross it is no longer necessary to have continuing prophecy and someone claiming such is truly a false prophet and is denying the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning death. We can certainly be assured that any continuing Scripture after Christ’s teaching is from an evil source rather than a divine one.

(Nikki) “Feel free to research things on your own at lds.org if you are curious what we believe. I found that as I research other religions I can understand why they believe what they do, and they still have faith in Jesus Christ and that is okay if they don't have the same interpretations as I do, it doesn't mean they are offending God.”

(Cristoiglesia) I agree that one should go to the source to learn what one believes. I have consulted lds.org on several occasions and have found that it is very difficult to find an answer to questions there as there seems to be an attempt to deflect the tough questions or refuse to answer. Instead I go straight to the writings of your sect such as your leaders and your writings such as the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and the Book of Mormon. I have studied all three of these writings as well as the writings of Joseph Smith and other leaders. I even subscribe to a website that preserves LDS history.

(Nikki) “They just won't receive all the blessings in store for them on this earth from the true church, but our Heavenly Father is merciful and loves us, so he will give everyone a fair chance to return to his kingdom in Heaven. I do not believe that he would lead me to a false church, and it just doesn't make sense that a "false church" would make me become a better disciple of Christ.
Thank you for your concern though.”

(Cristoiglesia) There is no evidence that the LDS sect is the “true church” except in the proclamations of Joseph Smith and the writings of Sydney Rigdon. Certainly you are correct that God is merciful but He is also just and loving. He does not force anyone to believe in Him. But the Bible does say that those who do not believe in Him have little chance of salvation as they are on the wide path to salvation. That would be a charitable description of those that follow the teaching of the LDDS sect. The truth is that the Holy Spirit will never stop trying to draw you to His Church but it is also true that you are blinded to the call of the Holy Spirit by the man-made counterfeit sect founded by Joseph Smith. One is not a better disciple of Christ by believing falsely. You put yourself up as the arbitrator of the truth but in fact it is the Church that has that authority and not any individual. This is how people are so easily deceived. Satan keeps using the same lies to deceive mankind. Just as He told Eve in the Garden that to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge would make her like God so too does the LDS sect teach that they will progress to be God’s also. That is just a repeat of the original lie to mankind from the same original source.

(Nikki) “Wow! Okay well you sound like you have a very cold a stony closed off heart that is not Christ-like at all. I will continue to grow closer to Christ as a Latter-day Saint. I now am convinced that the Catholic Church is not God's church because of what you said...I already disagreed with its man-made doctrines but now just seeing how the supposed fruit (you) of the Catholic church speaks, I can tell you are not speaking with the Holy Spirit, you are speaking of your own mind and your own convictions, not God's.”

(Cristoiglesia) I guess that would be determined by what one would believe is “Christ-like”. It is not “Christ-like” to ignore apostasy. Jesus revealed such actions of men and did so out of love. He was not heartless but loving in doing so and that love and sacrifice culminated on the cross and was revealed to all creation. Counterfeit sects like the LDS do not bring people closer to Christ but obscure Him by the false teaching that denies even that He is truly God in the Trinity. It is to him that all will be judged and of that there is no escape.

One thing for sure is that there will never be any man-made doctrines in the Catholic Church as all of the doctrines of the Church are perfectly aligned with the teaching of Jesus and the Bible without any contradiction. This alone is a miracle and points to the veracity of what Jesus said about His Church….He said of His Church that it would never fall into apostasy which the LDS contradict with their teaching and the Bible says of the Church that it is the “pillar and foundation of the truth”.

Did you not say that it is your own private revelation that convinces you to believe in the LDS sect rather than Christ’s own Church? Jesus prayed that we have unity and all be one in His Church but you like all those claiming Christianity outside of His stated will ignore this. Here is what He prayed:

John 17:21-23(KJV)

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

(Nikki) “You may think you know a lot and have prayed a lot about the LDS church (just like atheists think they know everything about Christians), but you don't. Because if you prayed like I did and actually communicated with God with an open heart like a child, you would have felt the Spirit testify of truth when you read the scripture and you would've realized that this is of God. Not of the devil. If it was of the devil it wouldn't be making me turn away from sin and turn to Christ.”

(Cristoiglesia) I have never claimed to know everything about the LDS sect. What I do know, without any doubt, is that the LDS sect is a false church based on the doctrines of devils and its faithful are those who cannot endure the sound doctrines of the Church that Christ founded and which the Bible says is the “pillar and foundation of the truth”.   The spirit that testified to you was not of God who, as I have previously given you evidence, prayed for unity in His Church and no other. You are claiming to me that you are a good person and because of this that you have merited salvation but the bible says instead that a true belief in Him is required instead of the good that you see in yourself that makes you think that you are good enough for salvation. But I am afraid that no one is good enough but instead it is by His grace and mercy that we are saved and not by our erroneously perceived goodness. You have been deceived by the LDS sect.

(Nikki) If you really knew God you would know that he will not condemn any one of his children that are honestly seeking to follow his teachings. I was completely against the LDS faith until I prayed for an open heart to any truth. And I came to know to know the restored Gospel is true the same way I came to know that Jesus is the Christ. So thank you for your time, I will pray for your heart to be softened and you can pray for me to be led to the truth whatever that may be.”

(Cristoiglesia) Actually we condemn ourselves before God condemns us. As someone once said, “Hell is locked from the inside”. You prayed for knowledge that Jesus’ teaching through His Church was false so that you could believe the counterfeit man-made sect of Joseph Smith. I have little doubt that a demon did not pass up the opportunity to exploit your doubts and replace them with false understandings and turning you from the true beliefs of Christ’s own Church. I will continue to pray for you.

(Nikki)”I didn't read the last part of your message until now, ya sure I'll read some of your blog and I'll let you know if I see anything incorrect.”

(Cristoiglesia) Thank you that would be very much appreciated as the truth is very important to me. I would never want to bear false witness against another.

(Nikki) “Like I said I'm open to all truth. I just know that I did the right thing by becoming a Latter-day Saint. But I'm very curious as to why you are so convinced that we are evil. So I will read what you have to say in your blogs and I'm open to discussion.”

(Cristoiglesia) Thank you again.

(Nikki) “Every time people bash my beliefs I end up gaining a stronger testimony. So as long as you can be open too, I will stay open minded also. I just ask that you don't go on a rampage saying I'm going to hell because that just sounds ridiculous and illogical.”

(Cristoiglesia) I am sorry if you have the impression that I am bashing your beliefs. I do believe that you are sincere but I see you as sincerely wrong based on the teaching of Jesus, His Church and the Bible. It would be merciful if no one went to hell but it certainly would not be the nature of a just God not to judge rightly according to one’s desire through their actions. Nothing God does is ridiculous or illogical. Hell is created for those who desire it from their actions disbelief and rejection of His will in His Church.

(Nikki) I need to pray more about the doctrine of exaltation to fully comprehend it. I admit it is different from traditional Catholic belief (it doesn't mean it is incorrect though).

 (Cristoiglesia) Actually a different teaching from the teaching of Jesus, His Church and the Bible does men that such a teaching and belief is false. It is not really difficult to understand as the Mormon doctrine is just a continuation of the ancient Pagan beliefs of the Romans and the Greeks with their families of gods. Certainly henotheism is not taught by Jesus, the Church or the Bible.  These three reliable sources teach the Trinity and monotheism instead of henotheism like the Mormons. It is not difficult to see the clear differences in the nature of God. It is clearly from not only extra biblical sources that these beliefs of the LDS come but these beliefs are in direct contradiction to the teaching of Jesus and His Church.

(Nikki) “I know that we can become like our Heavenly Father, although I do not know for certain to what extent.”

(Cristoiglesia) I think that the Bible clearly teaches that Eve thought as you.

(Nikki) ”I know for certain that prophets nowadays still speak of exaltation so I know that it is God who wants us to know that.”

(Cristoiglesia) It is easy to recognize false prophets as they teach contrary to the teaching of Christ, His Church and the Bible. They teach as they do to separate people from true salvific faith which we receive through God’s grace.

(Nikki) ”Just like I didn't understand the Eucharist at first, then I read about it, I could see how people believed it...now I'm going to research the doctrine of Exaltation and I will get back to you eventually when I figure it out for myself.”

(Cristoiglesia) Thank you

(Nikki) “ And trust me, I did not join this church because the doctrines sounded "pleasing" or as if I was excited about the concept of Exaltation. Because that was something I had a lot of questions about and something I believe and have faith that it is God's word and it is true..but I don't understand it yet. Just because it is different, doesn't mean it's wrong.”

(Cristoiglesia) Being different does not make it wrong, what makes it wrong is that it is contradictory to the teaching of Jesus, His Church and the Bible.

(Nikki) “Atheists could look at Christians view of heaven and say that "oh they just like to pretend they are worth something more than just a body and that they will be happy for eternity when in reality they are just a body that will be buried"...I tend to put myself in other people's shoes to see how they see something. And almost every time you can warp a truth to make it seem like a lie. I know some christians look at exaltation the same way atheists look at salvation. It's all about perspective.”

(Cristoiglesia) No, it is not about perspective at all. It is more about trusting the messenger which is what faith is all about. As St. Peter said at Capernaum after the great teaching of our Lord on the Eucharist when the disciples other than the 12 left Him; when Jesus asked if they would leave Him also he said “to whom shall we go as you have the words of eternal life” They admitted that what He taught was hard teaching but yet even though they did not understand the message they trusted the messenger.
Jesus taught us where that trust should reside and it is attested to in His teaching, the teaching of the Church and the recording of that teaching in the Bible. That is just one of the reasons that Jesus prayed that we have unity in His Church so that the truth would be taught to all those of true faith.

(Nikki) “Well that lady does not represent all of the LDS church, just as you do not represent all of the Roman Catholic Church. I disagree with what she said. Religion doesn't matter in Heaven. It's not like God will say to that lady "oh you're mormon so you go to the highest, and oh hi mother teresa you're a good lady but your catholic so you go down there"..that would NEVER be the case!”

(Cristoiglesia) I did not take offense to what she said when she said that because I did not desire to be God that I would be on a lower level of heaven. She was truly surprised that I do not have any desire to be God as she believed that this was part of the heavenly promise to the faithful. My desire is to serve God and to receive the beatific vision but not to be served myself as a God or to be like God as Satan promised Eve. She said that I would not be exalted because I had no desire to be exalted but only to serve Him for all eternity.

 (Nikki) “I truly believe that those with good righteous hearts and good intentions will go through a process in the Spirit World where they will learn whatever they need to learn (I know I don't know everything there is to know) and if they die before they have been baptized then they will have a chance to accept those ordinances there.”

(Cristoiglesia) I am sorry to inform you of this but according to Jesus, the Church and the Bible there is no second chance. At death we are to be judged and we are either condemned to an eternity in hell or we are judges worthy of the heavenly promise of God. There is no second chance but it is obvious that the LDS teaching denies God’s justice and only recognizes His mercy. There is no mercy at the exclusion of justice.

(Nikki) “I know you don't agree with that but I know God is a merciful God and nobody will be cast down to Hell for not knowing the Gospel or not accepting all truth on earth.”

(Cristoiglesia) Again, God is not merciful to the exclusion of justice. God will decide according to His nature and not our hopes who will be saved.

(Nikki) “I noticed a lot of references to the Church being immune to apostasy because of this scripture:“And upon this rock”—the rock of revelation—“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18.)”

(Cristoiglesia) The Bible dose not teach that the “rock” is “revelation” but instead the Scriptures teach that the Rock is the prime minister appointed by Christ whom Christ gave the name of “Peter” meaning “rock”.

 Certainly in Matthew 16 Jesus is referring to the prophecy of Isaiah in Isaiah 22 and in doing so He is fulfilling the prophetic imagery prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. The prime minister referred to by Isaiah is a type for the appointment of St. Peter to be the leader, steward and authority over His family or household. It further emphasizes by Christ’s actions in His appointment that He, Jesus, having received the throne of David by virtue of His Father is asserting His claim to the throne of David and as the rightful successor as king of all of Judah and Israel. He fulfills this by asserting the legal precedent necessary to fulfill prophecy and appoints St. Peter as the steward over His kingdom. He is claiming by this action what He came to do which was to establish a new and enduring Covenant with His Kingdom. But was this Kingdom fully established at this time or was it just a stepping stone to the establishing of His Kingdom in His appointment of St. Peter in Matthew 16? Certainly, the time had not yet come for the Prime Minister, St. Peter, to exercise the power of the keys for Christ had not yet revealed His glory or made claim to His kingdom with the establishment of the New Covenant. This would not happen until Calvary where Jesus would from the cross drink of the cup of consummation from the hyssop branch and then utter the words, “it is finished” after which He gave up His Spirit and His glory was revealed. He would finish His redemptive work three days later when He raised from the dead. Only then was all prophecy fulfilled and the law satisfied. St. Peter was now endowed with the Authority of Christ to be the royal steward over Christ’s kingdom. So great was this authority that He had the authority to bind or loose on earth as well as in heaven and became the spiritual father of Christ’s family. The keys represent the supremacy of the power bestowed on St. Peter and he is fastened on a peg and carries the weight of maintaining the King’s (Christ’s) house. So great are the parallels between Eliakim and St. Peter that it is implausible to deny that Eliakim is a type for St. Peter. The new kingdom is not a kingdom of land and of a people but it is the establishment of a spiritual kingdom of God and not of men. Keeping with the typology the office of Eliakim was an enduring office and so too is the office that St. Peter to which he has been appointed. Only the prime minister holds the keys of supreme authority and not only the first among equals but the special and singular authority among the disciples and visible head of the Church.

Let us look directly at the parallels between Isaiah 22 and Matthew 16.

The prime minister in David’s household had successors:

Isa 22:15, 1 Kings 4:6, & 18:3, 2 Kings 10:5, 15:5, 18:18

We see the full authority given to the prime minister:

Isa 22:22, Mat 16:19, Rev 3:7

Further teaching of the authority of the prime minister:

Mat 24:45, Luk 12:42, Gen 41:40, Gen 43:19

(Nikki) “And how could it be otherwise? There is no other foundation upon which the Lord could build his Church and kingdom.”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes there is.

Let us look at the teaching of our Lord about His Church. Using construction vernacular He said that He was the King, High Priest, and Cornerstone of the Church. The beginning of a firm/solid/ foundation is always the cornerstone which holds together the elements of the construction.

He appointed St. Peter as the prime minister of the Church fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah that the Messiah would ordain an enduring office of prime minister and that that prime minister would be given the keys to the kingdom. This is exactly what He did when appointing St. Peter. The keys represented his office and the authority of that office which was to have the power of the king in ministering to the kingdom and the authority to teach and proclaim the will of the king. (Isa 22:20-25)

The disciples are called the 12 foundation stones (Rev 21:14) of the Church continuing illustrating the permanence of what God is building. It is not a foundation of sand that is temporary but is of an enduring nature to last until the Parousia and strong enough to withstand the tumultuous attacks of hell that would surely attempt to prevail against the Church using every method of attack from within and from without. Even the world would hate that which our Lord had built just as it hated Him. This enduring leadership is the foundation of a Church that can truly be called the "pillar and foundation of the truth" because that which Christ has ordained shall never pass away or be absorbed into the world but will for all time remain heavenly as the ark for humanity where all may be saved just as the ark of Noah was the type for the Church which must endure within the evil of the world to bring the faithful into the promised land of heaven.

Last of all, the Church stands as testimony to the veracity of Christ and His promises to humanity. The Church is the fulfillment of Scriptures in its enduring quality as well as it being that pillar or bulwark of truth in a world filled with lies, temptation and sins that will murder souls to Christ and decrease the harvest. Its unity in His will with faith and oneness of its mission to proclaim the Gospel after 2000 years is a miracle in itself but also it proclaims the divinity of our Lord where in His prophetic vision, competence of His leadership as the builder of His Church and His promises of His Church makes it truly a city on a hill that cannot be hid (Mat 5:14) frustrating its detractors and more truly the "gates of hell".

(Nikki) “The things of God are known only by the power of his Spirit. God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown. No man can know that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost. Revelation: Pure, perfect, personal revelation—this is the rock"

(Cristoiglesia) Yet the Bible says the following in contradiction to your claim, “2 Peter 1:20 (KJV)

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

(Nikki) “You don't believe in personal revelation through scripture?”

(Cristoiglesia) I believe that it is the Church that is the “pillar and foundation of the truth” just as the Bible teaches.

(Nikki) “Revelation IS the rock that he built his Church upon.”

(Cristoiglesia) No, there is no evidence that what you are saying is true which is contradictory to biblical teaching.

(Nikki) “How do you know Jesus is the Christ? You can't prove it to people, they have to find out for themselves. The Bible can't even prove it to them. They have to receive a confirmation from God through revelation and being touched by the Holy Spirit, or else their foundation is of sand.”

(Cristoiglesia) It is by God’s grace that anyone believes and not by personal revelation.

(Deu 30:11) This commandment, that I command thee this day is not above thee, nor far off from thee:

(Deu 30:12) Nor is it in heaven, that thou shouldst say: Which of us can go up to heaven to bring it unto us, and we may hear and fulfil it in work?

(Deu 30:13) Nor is it beyond the sea: that thou mayst excuse thyself, and say: Which of us can cross the sea, and bring it unto us: that we may hear, and do that which is commanded?

(Deu 30:14) But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayst do it.

This is the teaching of Moses where Moses tells the people the importance of the law being upon their hearts and how it is essential for God’s plan for humanity. We rarely see reference to these verses because they speak most profoundly against Calvinist predestination that says only some are predestined to salvation and others are predestined to hell. If the law is written on everyone’s heart by God, then for what purpose, except to provide a pathway to eternity in Christ. I heard a preacher in a small Pentecostal Church in the mountains of Kentucky say that the law on our hearts was like the Rosetta stone allowing us to understand the things of God, that the law contains the very concept of faith and this grace and this Godliness coexists with our inherent sinfulness until we are washed by the blood of the Lamb with our surrender and become pure of heart within God’s law and consequently within His will. We cannot be within God’s will without obedience to this imputed law that along with inherited sin intuitively shows us the need for a Savior, Christ Jesus. This is why we have no excuse for our lack of surrender to God because He is not only evident in His creation but He is a part of our very being upon our creation.

How could one understand God’s demands upon us without this law? How can we understand God’s will for us to live within righteousness and justice if not for this law that abides always in our conscience? We often think of God’s law as something without us but in fact it is eternal within our being that calls to intuition the will of God. This is essential for without the law we cannot know God.

Now the law on our hearts should not be confused with those external laws of men. The law written on our hearts is the law that makes us understand righteousness, justice, love and reconciliation. The law in our hearts is not the external law that can result in legalism where the letter of the law is followed at the expense of the spirit of the law. There is no other means by which we know His voice when He speaks to our spirit.

(Heb 8:10) For this is the testament which I will make to the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will give my laws into their mind: and in their heart will I write them. And I will be their God: and they shall be my people.

(Rom 10:6) But the justice which is of faith, speaketh thus: Say not in thy heart: Who shall ascend into heaven? That is to bring Christ down;

(Rom 10:7) Or who shall descend into the deep? That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.

(Rom 10:8) But what saith the scripture? The word is nigh thee; even in thy mouth and in thy heart. This is the word of faith, which we preach.

(Rom 10:9) For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

(Col 1:27) To whom God would make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ, in you the hope of glory.

(Nikki) When the Jews heard Jesus basically adding scripture to their Torah or adding new laws and changing some laws in the Law of Moses, how do you think they came to the conclusion that he was the Son of God? Revelation. They believed not because they saw but because the Holy Spirit testified to them the truth of all things and they received knowledge of that from God (revelation). My foundation in Jesus Christ is made of rock. Because I didn't just agree with what everyone told me about religion and what was true or not, that would be building my faith on sand. I asked God for myself and over and over again I have my beliefs confirmed strongly...that is revelation and it will forever be my rock. The LDS Church is built upon a rock foundation. Just as the early church was built upon rock by Peter who knew what he knew because of revelation. God didn't expect humans with free-will to stick perfectly to the truth through the years, but he kept his word, we will always have revelation to keep the truth alive. And now His church once again fully depends on revelation to keep His church alive.”

(Cristoiglesia) You are very much in error and way outside of biblical teaching with your assumptions and eisegetical approach to Scriptures. Do you not see the arrogance in your statements where I essentially hear you saying that you believe in the LDS version of god because you have decided that your feelings are more truthful than the teaching of Jesus, His Church or God’s Word in the Bible? Jesus fulfilled the law and there is no more need for revelations. The fullness of truth is contained  in His Church just as the Bible says.

(Nikki) “We don't "have" gods, we just assume that there is a possibility of multiple creators out there. We only worship our God, we only talk about one God, we only try to emulate one God. And I agree, we have one God that created all things. He is our God and our creator. But I guess the humble part of me knows that we don't know everything there is to know about everything. I'm not going to say there is nothing else besides this universe because I simply do not know. And to be honest I don't think I believe that god was an exalted man.  I don't think I agree with that perspective 100%. And it doesn't matter if I do because my salvation doesn't depend on it and we don't even teach about it in the church.”

(Cristoiglesia) The problem with the teaching that you have accepted is that it denies the biblical teaching of the creation. There is no mention of gods in creation or families of god’s with spirit children who may progress to become god’s themselves. The fact is that the Bible teaches that there is one God revealed in the Trinity. That is the only reasonable theological conclusion that is possible. I know you do not know everything and neither do I but I do know that God would not contradict Himself and that is what the Mormon Godhood Doctrine does. It reduces the one true God to just one of innumerable God’s who have progressed to that level. In other words it is essentially the same lie as Satan used to encourage Eve to sin. What your salvation and mine depend on is that we believe in the one true God in the Trinity. Jesus said that only those who believe in Him will have eternal life. Can one truly  believe in Him and still believe that He is one of innumerable Gods and creators? I think that the Bible clearly teaches no as it says:

John 14:6 (KJV)

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

(Nikki) “So my understanding of exaltation (the idea that we can progress to eventually become like our Heavenly Father) is that I believe we are literal spirit sons and daughters of God. He literally created our spirits and bodies in his image. In my mind, He is our Father, and we are his children, then of course we can become like him. We have the same spirit DNA (for lack of a better term). Just as on earth we can become like our earthly parents. And let's say hypothetically your son becomes like you someday, and maybe he has children of his own someday and becomes a good father like you and develops all the good attributes you have. Will your son honor you any less? Does it take away from you if your son becomes like you? I think if anything that would be a father's greatest wish.”

(Cristoiglesia) Do you really not see how such a belief diminishes God to an almost human entity? Can you not see that this is the same lie told to Eve? From what source did Eve come to believe that she would progress to be like God if she just ate of the forbidden fruit? The Bible teaches that we were created to serve God and not to be gods.

(Nikki) “Also just so you know, the lowest level of heaven is called the Telestial, and that is where good people who are "unbelievers" go, people who didn't accept Jesus Christ. Then Terrestrial is where people who accepted Jesus Christ go (what she should've said you are supposedly going even though she has no judgement in where you go), the Celestial is where people who keep covenants go (right now the only people making covenants with God would be in His church ...so the faithful Latter-day Saints). And the equivalent of "Hell" would be Outer Darkness...that's where Satan and his followers are, the people who completely deny Christ and basically those who don't want to be saved because of their own pride.”

(Cristoiglesia) Thank you for that explanation.

(Nikki) “And we do not think we are going to be God! We believe we are going to be his princes and princesses and be able to have knowledge and power like he does. That doesn't mean we will literally be Him, it just means we will be like Him. Just like we have the potential to become like our earthy parents. We have divine potential to make our spirits (our ways, desires, attributes etc) like the Father of our spirits. We will always worship God for eternity because he will always be OUR God and OUR Father. We cannot become our own father or creator....that relationship will never change.”

(Cristoiglesia) It is really surprising to me how Satan can use the same tactics throughout human history to separate man from the truth which is that God is Almighty and unique in all of creation. He is the Alpha and the Omega and there were no other God’s before Him and there will be no other God’s after Him.

Salvation is really so simple….all we need do is believe in Him and reject the doctrines of men and devils. It is to be Him that we serve and no other and not for selfish reasons like desiring and being deceived into believing that we will progress to be like Him as the impetus of our belief. We are to believe in Him because we desire to serve Him and NOT because we desire to be like Him as that would be impossible.

(Nikki) “We don't "have" gods, we just assume that there is a possibility of multiple creators out there.”

(Cristoiglesia) This is one of the teachings of the LDS sect that separates it from the Christian faith which is monotheistic and defined as the Trinity of three persons in one God. Any belief in multiple creators is not only extra biblical but is a new version of the lies told to Eve which resulted in the fall of man. Accepting that belief of multiple creators is no different than Eve eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge. I find it interesting that Satan uses the same lies and that some are still deceived by them. The teaching of God is that there is one creator and one God and not families of Gods that give birth to their own worshippers who themselves may progress to be gods. Can you not see that this repeated lie of Satan by proclaiming that there are innumerable gods marginalizes the true God into one of many and denies the Christian teaching that there is one God who created all things. It is a clever think of Satan but I am surprised that anyone would fall for this same satanic lie. The truth is that there is one God and we do not progress to be a god also but instead our “progression” is to live out what we were created for which is to worship Him and no other for all eternity.

(Nikki) “We only worship our God, we only talk about one God, we only try to emulate one God. And I agree, we have one God that created all things. He is our God and our creator. But I guess the humble part of me knows that we don't know everything there is to know about everything. I'm not going to say there is nothing else besides this universe because I simply do not know.”

(Cristoiglesia) I am not sure that I understand what you mean that “we have one God that created all things” in view of the henotheistic beliefs of the Mormons. Perhaps you could explain this to me in more detail as it seems contradictory in itself besides being contradictory to the teaching of Jesus, His Church and the Bible. Thankfully we will not be judged by what we do not know but by how we follow what has been revealed to us by Christ. Christ taught nothing about other God’s or families of God but instead He taught of having devotion to the one God in the Trinity. It is important however that you accept and believe in the messenger which is Jesus Christ who is truly god among us. He alone has the words of eternal life unadulterated by the false teachings of Joseph Smith and the extra biblical works of the LDS sect.  

 (Nikki) “And to be honest I don't think I believe that god was an exalted man. I don't think I agree with that perspective 100%. And it doesn't matter if I do because my salvation doesn't depend on it and we don't even teach about it in the church.”

(Cristoiglesia) This seed of doubt may come to fruition in your belief in the teaching of Christ and the rejection of the lies of Joseph Smith. It is true that your salvation does not depend on believing in this man-made doctrine that repeats the lies of Satan to Eve. What your salvation does depend on you believing in Christ, which means that you must believe in the entirety of His teaching as the Word of God. The fact is that this belief is taught by the Church and is an integral part of Mormon doctrine. Jesus taught only of one God and not of innumerable God’s and families of gods which is not unlike the ancient beliefs of the Pagan Romans and Greeks. Accepting extra biblical teachings that change and are contradictory to Christian teaching is dangerous and very well may result in eternal damnation. Right belief does matter because Christians are called to believe Christ and not doctrines of men and devils.

(Nikki) “ So my understanding of exaltation (the idea that we can progress to eventually become like our Heavenly Father) is that I believe we are literal spirit sons and daughters of God. He literally created our spirits and bodies in his image. In my mind, He is our Father, and we are his children, then of course we can become like him. We have the same spirit DNA (for lack of a better term). Just as on earth we can become like our earthly parents.”

(Cristoiglesia) Can you not see that this teaching is no different than the lie told to Eve by Satan? The result of this belief by Eve resulted in the fall of man and Adam and Eve being thrown out of heaven. It resulted in death being brought into Paradise and to the world. The truth is that we can never be God. We were not created to progress to be gods also but instead we were created to serve God. The godhood doctrine of the LDS sect is evil in nature in that it does not bring us closer to God but separates us from the truth and from our destiny of service to God by worshipping Him for all eternity. This is the progression taught by Jesus and the result of His atoning sacrifice on the cross. The Bible says that we are created in His image and not of His essence. We can never be a god or share in His divinity but can only serve Him.

 (Nikki) “And let's say hypothetically your son becomes like you someday, and maybe he has children of his own someday and becomes a good father like you and develops all the good attributes you have. Will your son honor you any less? Does it take away from you if your son becomes like you? I think if anything that would be a father's greatest wish.

(Cristoiglesia) Read what you just stated…..do you see that you are trying to give God human qualities so that you can justify the false belief deification taught by your sect? The familial relationships that we have with each other and with God are clearly defined by Jesus, the Church and the Bible. Jesus greatest commandment is that we are to love one another as we are all In Christ that truly believe in Him. He is our mediator to the Father and as believers we are part of the same vine so what affects us individually affects the health of the whole Body. God is the worshipped and we can never progress to be God as He is the Alpha and the Omega and will never change.

The truth is important and Jesus taught that there is only one God of which He is the second person of the Trinity of God. Believe Him and not Joseph Smith or the false prophets of your counterfeit sect. Satan’s most evil lie is that we can be like God and that evil belief is personified in the teaching of the LDS sect and continues the legacy of this evil teaching that resulted in our original sin. The true Father in heavens greatest wish is for us to serve Him and not be Him. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph