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Are Roman Catholics Saved?

First, some fun:

  • What is an Evangelical? A nice fundamentalist.
  • How do you tell the difference between an Evangelical and a Fundamentalist? Ask them if they like Billy Graham. If they do, they are Evangelical. If they don’t, they are Fundamentalist (Fundamentalists believe he has compromised).
  • Finally . . . How do you tell the difference between an Evangelical and a Fundamentalist? Ask if Roman Catholics are going to heaven. If they say “no,” they are Fundamentalists. If they say “maybe,” they are Evangelical.

Are Roman Catholics Saved? Short answer: I don’t know. However, don’t read to much into that. I don’t know if Protestants are Christian. I don’t know if many who go to my evangelical church are Christian. By “Christian” I mean someone who has truly been regenerated by God and is, as a result, a genuine disciple of Christ.

Of course, a better question that people are getting at is this: Do I believe that someone who is a committed member of the Roman Catholic Church can be a true Christian? To this I answer “yes.” Now, to be fair, I do not feel that the majority of Roman Catholics with whom I have come in contact are true believers. But, to be fairer, I don’t believe that the majority of Protestants (and Eastern Orthodox for that matter) with whom I have come in contact are true believers either! It is the problem of nominalism. Simply confessing to be a part of any Christian tradition does not mean that one truly embraces the ideals of said tradition. Christians are those who truly believe in who Christ is and do their best to follow him.

I think the most important question that has ever been asked in the history of the world is, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). The confession of Roman Catholicism, along with that of Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy, has been united concerning this for two thousand years: “Jesus Christ is the God-Man who died for our sins and rose from the grave.” Getting that right is no small thing. In fact, I would say that to have a true belief in such a creed requires the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Roman Catholicism is to be commended, in my opinion, for being an ardent defender of the Trinity, the resurrection of Christ, and the necessity of belief in such. Though there are many passages I could turn to, I think 1 John 4:2 says more than we often give it credit for. In fact, I would say that this is one of the most neglected passages which could be used to defend the deity of Christ. Notice:

1 John 4:2
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.

Without getting too much into this (as it deserves its own blog post!), this passage teaches that a true belief that Christ is man and God is an indication that someone is “from God.” You may say that it only talks about his humanity (“in the flesh”) and not his deity. But I believe that implied within this is an assumption of Christ’s deity. Why? Because there would be no reason to deny that Christ had come in the flesh were it not assumed that he was God. I mean, how hard is it to deny that someone has come “in the flesh”, if they were only thought of as being human? It is a foregone conclusion that they have “come in the flesh”! This passage makes no sense, unless it is assumed that a person believes that Christ is God. But the point that I want to make right now is that it is a big deal to believe in the humanity and deity of Christ. Think about how rare this really is outside of Christianity. Obviously, atheists do not confess this, but what about Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, and agnostics? They don’t have as an essential core to their confession (to say the least) that Christ is the God-man. The best of Catholics do. The best of Protestants do. The best of Eastern Orthodox do. It is because of this that I don’t easily dismiss Roman Catholics’ status before God. They get the “Who do you say that I am?” question right.

Not only this, but Catholics believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. They believe that we are sinners in need of grace.  Even though they lean toward inclusivism since Vatican II, they still believe that there is no other name by which we must be saved. Again, this is significant stuff which, if truly believed, I don’t see how an unregenerate person can confess without salvific implications. All of this can be said about Eastern Orthodoxy as well.

Having said all of this, I am sure that many of my Protestant brothers and sisters are getting hot under the collar right now. I understand. Many of you are saying, “What about their worship of Mary?”  “What about their acceptance of Purgatory?”  “What about the Apocrypha?”  “What about the Pope?”  And, most importantly, “What about their denial of justification by faith alone?”

All of these are good questions and significant differences (some more so than others). I don’t want to undermine the importance of doctrine by saying that Roman Catholics can be saved. I hope you don’t see me doing this (though some will inevitably think I am). I am simply saying that the most central question in Christianity is, “Who do you say that I am?”, and they get this right.

So the question becomes, “How can someone believe and confess that their works contribute to their salvation and be saved?” (as Roman Catholics do). My answer is this: perfect doctrine does not save anyone. Sufficient doctrine is an indication that someone is saved. I believe deeply that justification is by faith alone (sola fide). However, I don’t think that justification comes through a belief in justification by faith alone. Put it this way: Heaven will not be inhabited by anyone who contributed to their justification. Some will get to heaven and they will find out how radical grace really was. In fact, I think all Christians will be overwhelmed by grace. The sanctification process, in some ways, can be summed up as this: the progressive realization that grace (undeserved and unmerited favor) is our only hope. I don’t think any of us really grasp this. Therefore, both Protestants and Roman Catholics will stand before God with a greater realization and confidence that our works had nothing to do with our present state of eternal blessedness. Roman Catholics will have a bigger learning curve than Protestants, in my opinion, but both of us will be overwhelmed by what grace really is. Most Roman Catholics will have a sudden realization that it truly was their faith in Christ alone that justified (Eph. 2:8-9).

So, where does that leave us? Does this mean that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is not important? Most definitely not. Paul exhorted the Galatians (who were justified, yet were replacing grace with the burden of law and works) not to “get saved,” but to live out the benefits of their salvation. The degree to which we are preaching justification without works is the degree to which we are preaching the grace of God. So we continue, as Paul did, to encourage people to take the burden off their backs…it is not ours to carry. I encourage Roman Catholics to do the same: realize how crazy, insane, radical, and beyond belief grace really is.

Protestantism is not perfect by any means. I believe we have a “fuller” Gospel understanding than Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox (otherwise, I would not be Protestant!), but this does not mean we have a perfect understanding of the Gospel. However, we need to continue to spread the message of the Gospel that grace is only realized once we see that it is completely undeserved.

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

192 Responses to “Are Roman Catholics Saved?”

  1. Truth Unites... and Divides March 29, 2012 at 6:35 am

    CMP’s post reminds me of this post that I just read the other day:

    Why All Christians Are Actually Non-Denominational

  2. Truth unites,

    That depends on what part of the post the professor agrees with and who it is. One rogue professor does not represent the whole seminary or The church or Johnny. He has been clear he does not hold to this view as evidenced in his sermons on RCC. In fact, most Reformed theologians, pastors and seminaries do not hold to CMP’s view here, which is rather rather modern.

    Now many would hold that a Catholic could be saved by having fath alone by reading their Bible and still remain for a time in the church, but they clearly say it’s in spite of RCC dogma and not as a result of it.

  3. “Are Roman Catholics Saved?”

    Some are…and some aren’t.

    Just like every other batch of people sitting in the pews under the cross.

  4. CMP,

    Accursed (anathema) does not mean they lost their salvation, but rather they never had it in the first place. Paul is very clear what anathema means, NET translates “let him be condemned to hell!”

    Rom. 9:3 –
    For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,

    To be separated from Christ is clearly not a lack of living “by means of the grace by which we have been saved.” See 1 Cor. 12:3 and 16:22.

    “To be anathematized then means far more than to be excommunicated. It means nothing less than to suffer the eternal retribution and judgment of God. The GNB comes close to capturing the essence of Paul’s tone in this passage, “Let him be condemned to hell!” We can gauge something of what this curse must have meant to Paul’s readers by looking at a curse in one of the documents found among the Dead Sea Scrolls…” – Timothy George (NAC), so Bruce, MacArthur, Lightfoot, Kittel’s,

    Also realize that this condemnation is given on these teachers not only because they have changed the gospel, but also because of the damage it does to those who believe it. Those who believe this false gospel are also lost, which is why Paul so strongly condemns the teachers. “If men are taught a false gospel, they are being led from the one thing that can save them and are being turned to destruction” – Boice (EBC).

    CMP, is there any evangelical scholar who takes anathema to mean what you say…

  5. Interesting post. Here is a related and important topic that I find very interesting: the certainty of salvation in the Church at Rome:

    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/08/st-thomas-aquinas-on-assurance-of-salvation/

    I’m getting ready to respond to this gentleman again, who seems to have some good points, but overall I think is simply wrong (I’m a serious Lutheran by the way)

  6. Who held and taught the fullness of the truth of Christianity for 1500 years after Christ? Protestants? Oh right, they didn’t exist.

    “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?…So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2: 14, 17

  7. EMSoliDeoGloria March 29, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Thank you, Michael. I very much agree with this post and appreciate it. I made very similar arguments to one of the pastors at my church after a sermon in which the argument was made that “if you believe you are justified by good deeds that Christ helps you perform, then you don’t belong to Christ, you belong to the Judaizer party, which Paul calls enemies.”

    My challenge to the pastor was “So, imputed righteousness is absolutely necessary to salvation but it is not necessary that it be understood for one to be saved, though understanding it will help me know and praise God as I ought. I may even be deceived about how God goes about saving me and yet, if I repent of my sins, trusting in Christ and him crucified, I will be saved.”

  8. Michael,

    I don’t know of many, other than a few popular Evangelical and Fundamentalist preachers who take the position that anyone who believes that works contribute anything to their salvation are *de facto* not saved.

    Again, the issue is tremendous. To say that anyone who believes such is to anathematize the majority of Church history before the reformation, including St. Augustine! You dismiss this too easily and I don’t think you are wrestling with the implications. To say that people still read their Bibles fails to understand that people did not have Bibles. They were not easy to come by (to say the least). The mass majority could not even read. They had to rely on the teaching of the church and just about everyone at least assumed some sort of baptismal regeneration.

    Concerning anathema. This word is used six times in the NT. It is never theological, but rhetorical. Yes, it means “burn in hell” but it functions not unlike our “burn in hell.” It does not carry prophetic value in the sense that the curse itself has the intrinsic value to accomplish its vocative in an actual way. It is hyperbolic rhetoric. This should be obvious as Paul says that if we “or an Angel from heaven . . . Let him be anathema.” Paul is not suggesting from this that it is actually possible for an angel “from heaven” to go to hell. Admittedly, we don’t know much about angels, but I would look with suspicion upon someone who had this verse in support of an angelology that said angels can actually be accursed.

    We find this same type of usage in the other occurrences in the NT. For example, in Acts 23:14 the enemies of Paul *put themselves* under an “anathema” until the killed Paul. Of course, we do not take this as literal. They did not have the authority to do so and they did not believe they did either. As well, in Romans 9:3 Paul uses the same rhetoric as he wishes himself anathema for the sake of his brothers and sisters. In 1 Cor. 16:22 it says “If no one has love for the Lord, let him be anathema.” Again, rhetoric pronouncing the seriousness of the issue, but not to be made to walk on all fours theologically. Angels from heaven cannot be accursed.

    This is why I say that the best we can get from the context is to see how serious it is (which I have said in the OP). To believe and teach that works contribute to our salvation is to “fall from grace.” This is the context that I would keep anathema in. And I do believe that Roman Catholics, Protestants, and any others of us who attempt to add to the grace of God fail because we are not living according to the Gospel (which then becomes living according to a different Gospel which has no hope, for the believer or unbeliever). And let all who believe and teach such be (in the vocative sense!) anathema.

  9. Danny Feliciano March 29, 2012 at 9:58 am

    In 1 John 4 it states

    1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

    2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

    3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

    Now I am quite sure every one here is acquainted with these verses but examine it carefully. Literally we can easily overlook and say all those that confessed Jesus coming in the flesh would certainly passed this test. For example, catholics, oneness pentecostals and heck even Jehovah Witnesses! However, what does Jesus coming in the flesh mean other than literally confessing him coming in the flesh? Well,Jesus we know is the Word of God and if we acknowledge and understand this then when we read anyone who doesn’t confess him coming in the flesh is anti-christ its referring to obscuring his Deity as the Word of God. In other words, those who truly confess him coming in the flesh will glorify him for who he is THE WORD OF GOD. Those who only confess in the literal sense like catholics, jehovah witnesses etc. are obscuring his Deity by their doctrines that do not coincide with the Word of God, hence, a different Gospel and different Jesus who is not the Word of God but an impostor.

  10. The phrase “faith alone” (the Greek “pisteos monon”) only occurs once in the Bible “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24.

    2 Cor. 10:15 – Faith must also increase as a result of our obedience, as Paul hopes for in this verse. Obedience is achieved not by faith alone, but by doing good works.

    2 Cor. 13:5 – Paul also admonishes us to examine ourselves, to see whether we are holding to our faith. This examination of conscience is a pious Catholic practice. Our faith, which is a gift from God, must be nurtured. Faith is not a one-time event that God bestows upon us.

    As for Mary … Even Martin Luther had a special devotion to Mary. Luke 1:28 – “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” These are the words spoken by God and delivered to us by the angel Gabriel (who is a messenger of God). Thus, when Catholics recite this verse while praying the Rosary, they are uttering the words of God.

    As far as the comment made before about praying to the dead, Mary and the other Saints in Heaven are more alive than you and I. If you ask your friends on earth to pray for you, why not your friends in Heaven? Let us unite the whole Communion of Saints in prayer to fight the wickedness and snares of the devil.

  11. Mr. Taylor, I most certainly agree that having the gift of prophecy is far different from knowing the entire sum of thoughts of all the hearts. When did I ever say that Mary knows the entire sum of thoughts of all the hearts? I don’t think that’s true at all, nor have I ever read or heard anything from the Catholic Church that states such a thing. Mary’s ability to know our prayers is on the level of any prophet’s ability to know something in the heart of another person – it is NOT omniscience. I don’t know how to say it any plainer. Catholics do NOT believe that Mary is omniscient or equal to God in any way.

    If you would care to tell me why you prefer to persist in believing something about us that isn’t true instead of believing what is true, I would love to understand. I find it perplexing.

    You asked me if I believed that by praying to Baal (1 Kings 18:26) the prophets of Ball worshiping Baal. Well, they WERE actually worshiping Baal, and so yes, they were worshiping Baal whether they did that through prayer or some other means (say, sacrifice, dancing, whatever).

    But the act of prayer itself is not necessarily equivalent to worship. Christians say prayers to Jesus all the time that are NOT worship. Prayers of repentance or supplication or intercession (“I need…”) are not worship (“I adore You, God”). So it’s perfectly possible to pray to Mary without worshiping her. We save our worship for the Lord God Almighty and Him alone. We don’t worship…

  12. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16

  13. J David: “But why would we need a dead person to intercede for us”

    @ J David, the departed saints are NOT DEAD! If anything, they are more alive than us. “I am not the God of the dead, but the God of the living”.

    Do we get kicked out of the Church when we fall asleep in the Lord? Of course not. The saints are alive and part of the Church. Asking for them to pray for us is what Christians have done for 2,000 years.

    Written on the walls of 1st century catacombs in Rome are: “Peter and Paul, pray for us!”
    http://www.oocities.org/athens/Atrium/8410/catacombs.html

  14. CMP, I must exegete the Scripture first, then filter church history through that lens. If a certain age of the church was darkened via a corruption of the gospel, and this can be proven from Scripture, so be it (see reformers, et. al.)

    But let us go to the primary argument first, that of what the Scripture itself teaches. In the writings of Paul, anathema clearly means to be eternally condemned to hell. As you know context is the first rule of interpretation, and Acts is a different usage by a different author (see the etymology of anthema and it’s relation to Heb. herem in BDAG or TDNT.) While Gal. 1:8 might be taken as somewhat rhetorical since because he uses himself and angels as an example, Paul’s repetition in v. 9 and his use of “if any man” makes it clear he is not being rhetorical there. Also, check out the verb, it’s a present, active, IMPERATIVE, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω, he is TO BE accursed.

    Paul is not just concerned that they have “fallen from grace”, but that these false teachers will actually cause the condemnation of others, if others believe and follow a works salvation teaching. Also in ch. 2 some said you must do a work (in addition to faith) to be saved. Paul calls them “false brethren”! If Paul had done what they said, this would have effected the “truth of the Gospel.” (v.5).

    Again, do you have any evangelical scholar or commentary to support your view of “anathema” in Gal. 1?

  15. As my church history prof at seminary would probably say: 381

  16. Anathema is more properly “a handing over to the disciplinary wrath of God”. To say “hell” is a bit much, but I understand why translators put it there.

    I think you just ignored everything I said without dealing with it either historically or Scripturally.

    It is a very difficult issue, but I encourage you to think contextually, canonically, AND historically.

  17. Mr. Episito, your comments flummoxed me. For you to say that Catholics don’t understand what Jesus has done and is doing is such a strange, strange thing. Every single day, every hour of every single day, somewhere in the world, Catholics gather to celebrate the fact that Jesus died for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life and equips us with the saving grace to be God’s children. We Catholics agree that His is the only righteousness necessary for salvation. How can you say we deny it? You say it’s in the Catechism that we deny it, but that’s not true at all. Please refer to this section: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c3a2.htm

  18. A book that has some good articles on the Evangelical and Catholic conversation is Your Word is Truth: A Project of Evangelicals and Catholics Together; ed. Colson & Neuhaus (Eerdmans, 2002).

    Two very good essays are by Timothy George and Avery Dulles on the two perspectives regarding Scripture and Tradition.

  19. CMP is warmed-up good now, with “Anathema”! Indeed we must take the “Figures of Speech” in the Bible seriously! I would agree with Michael somewhat here! And literally “Anathema” was an offering (see the LXX or Sept.), and later as in the NT, “a thing” devoted to destruction or given up to the curse. But in Galatians, it is to the “Gospel” itself, that St. Paul states in the strongest language that the Gospel he preached was the one and only way of salvation, and any other way was to devoid the Death of Christ! But, even the grace of God reaches beyond the curse, but we can only leave this to God, Himself! For there is a “biblical” Gospel and Revelation of God alone! And here is the depth of Grace & Glory! But always in the “face” of Christ, (2 Cor. 4:6). Here is the Pauline and Apostolic Gospel!

    However, none of us understands or perfects this Gospel of Grace & Glory. But hopefully by faith partake of such! It is surely beyond all of us!

  20. And Amen to MCP’s #14! Listen up my theolog friends! Again God’s grace & glory reaches well past our best of thought & thinking! :)

  21. Btw, for my Roman Catholic Brethren, we simply must read and stand upon the biblical revelation-text (theology) of 1 Tim. 2: 5.. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” And following Calvin, only here is the relationship between the Person and Work of Christ, and here alone also is Christ as Prophet-Priest-King! He shares this “office/s” with no one!

  22. Fr. Robert, I and every other Catholic I know heartily agrees with 1 Tim. 2: 5. Please see my comments in #29 on page one of this discussion to understand how we delineate between a human intercessor and Christ as mediator.

    Another way to put it would be to picture a courtroom, where God is the judge and you are the accused. An intercessor would be a witness called on your behalf. Christ would be who speaks to the judge to plead your case, ultimately offering to serve your just sentence Himself. Just as a witness in a court case doesn’t take over the role of the lawyer, neither does a human intercessor usurp the role of Christ as our one-and-only Mediator.

  23. I will be addressing this article on the Dividing Line today (3/29) starting at 6:30pm EDT.

    James White

  24. Hello, Mr. Patton. I just learned that James White is planning on commenting on your article today on his Dividing Line broadcast, in case you didn’t know by now.

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=5039

  25. Danny Feliciano March 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    In 1 John 4 it states
    1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
    2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
    3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
    Now I am quite sure every one here is acquainted with these verses but examine it carefully. Literally we can easily overlook and say all those that confessed Jesus coming in the flesh would certainly passed this test. For example, catholics, oneness pentecostals and heck even Jehovah Witnesses! However, what does Jesus coming in the flesh mean other than literally confessing him coming in the flesh? Well,Jesus we know is the Word of God and if we acknowledge and understand this then when we read anyone who doesn’t confess him coming in the flesh is anti-christ its referring to obscuring his Deity as the Word of God. In other words, those who truly confess him coming in the flesh will glorify him for who he is THE WORD OF GOD. Those who only confess in the literal sense like catholics, jehovah witnesses etc. are obscuring his Deity by their doctrines that do not coincide with the Word of God, hence, a different Gospel and different Jesus who is not the Word of God but an impostor.

  26. Sparki: The grave problem, as I see it anyway, is that the Offices and “Secessions” that Christ does on the Throne of God above – in the glory, HE does as the ONE & ONLY Mediator between God & Men. There is only One Who is both God & Man, in reality ‘One Incarnate Nature of God the Logos’ (Cyril of Alexandria). Christ thus has ONE united nature out of two: divinity and humanity. And as the Body of Christ we can share in something of His “humanity” (The Mystical Body of Christ), but certainly not His divinity. Indeed “Christ Jesus” alone is the Mediator!

  27. Fr. Robert, were you under the impression that Catholics think that they are somehow part of Jesus’ divinity? We don’t. We agree that Jesus is the ONE & ONLY Mediator between God & Men. We agree that there is only ONE Who is both God & Man. Why do you think we think otherwise?

  28. Michael writes: “So the question becomes “How can someone believe and confess that their works contribute to their salvation and be saved?” (as Roman Catholics do).”

    The question is confused, since Catholic reject exclusive forensic justification to begin with, and thus “works” cannot in principle play the same role in Catholic soteriology as they would in a Protestant understanding. Click my name to read my Catholic Thing article on the matter.

  29. Sparki: My point was the loss, or no real connection with CHRIST’s Medatorship, thus human arguments just don’t matter for our prayers, at best we can only pray in Jesus Name! Note, I was raised Irish Roman Catholic in Dublin Ireland, in the 50’s and early 60’s. And I was also an English Benedictine in my 20’s for a few years. I am over 60 now. So I am at least somewhat aware of Roman Catholicism. And I don’t see it as all negative, either. I still have extended family who are Roman Catholic, and I think we get on quite nicely still! ;) Indeed, these are “theological” and “biblical” disagreements, but not necessarily fully salvific (though they can be certainlly). I mean, none of us has this all figured-out! Though St. Paul saw much more than we do! (Note, 1 Cor. 13: 11-13)

  30. “Christians are those who truly believe in who Christ is and do their best to follow him.”

    That seems like a rather…poorly qualified statement given the aim of the article.

  31. Fr. Robert, sorry for persisting, but I really don’t see this “loss” or “no real connection” with Christ as Mediator. It’s a constant theme throughout the Liturgy of the Eucharist in every Mass and in every other Sacrament as well. I can’t see how you have concluded that Catholics miss it when it’s so evident that we believe in it!

  32. “BTW: I just had a professor from John MacArthurs seminary write me and say he agreed with this post. So, I suppose, it can’t be TOO far out in Protestant left field. ”

    CMP: Who was it? I would like to know.

    • No, I would not suggest a Roman Catholic church unless there were only liberal churches to choose from (or overtly legalistic fundamentalist church—then it is a toss-up).

      I cannot tell who it was. I am not saying he is agreeing in secret, but I would not want to say what he can say himself.

  33. CMP: If a new believer who never attended church before were to ask you what church he should attend, would you ever recommend a RCC?

  34. I have lurked on this site for a long time and never commented but I want to make an observation: Some years back I read an article in either Time or Newsweek about a movement within the Catholic Church to make Mary “Co-Redemptrix” with Jesus…..just sayin’

    I have Catholic relatives and appreciate CMP’s view on this issue.

  35. @Sparki: Simply, all of the Offices of Christ, are tied together to HIS Person and Work! Note for us Reformed Christians, His “Sessions” above on the Throne of God, are HIS Mediatorship! And we don’t enter a wit into HIS saving grace and soteriology – salvation! It is here I part company with both Roman Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox! As I have pressed my EO friends, WE really cannot, since the doctrine of Imputation still is dependent upon our forensic Justfication of God In Christ!

    So in the end product, CHRIST’s Mediatorial Work is His alone!

  36. I respect that you want him to speak for himself, but if you can’t say who it is, then you shouldn’t mention that he was a”professor from John MacArthurs seminary.” You are making a point that can’t be confirmed or refuted, yet you use it to show you are within the mainstream.

  37. CMP: Thanks for your response. In regard to church attendance: so if there were only “liberal churches to choose from” then you would recommend a Roman Catholic Church? There could be a time where you would recommend to the catholic church to someone?

  38. Just a note, but I am thankful – in the providence of God – that I was raised Roman Catholic! The doctrine of the Virgin Birth, the doctrine of Christ as God & Man, the Vicarious suffering and Death of Christ, and the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ! Yes, here is what Michael was saying that Rome has right! Note we had a Reformation, and not a reformulation! Just a point.

  39. And of yes, how could I forget the great doctrine of the Trinity of God! Though now I am closer to the EO here, no “filioque”!

  40. Sparki: This is for you mate!

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23

    It may however be hence inferred with certainty, that our salvation is altogether through the grace and mere beneficence of God. He might indeed have used other words — that the wages of righteousness is eternal life; and then the two clauses would correspond: but he knew that it is through God’s gift we obtain it, and not through our own merits; and that it is not one or a single gift; for being clothed with the righteousness of the Son, we are reconciled to God, and we are by the power of the Spirit renewed unto holiness. And he adds, in Christ Jesus, and for this reason, that he might call us away from every conceit respecting our own worthiness.” (Calvin, from his Romans)

  41. Using 1 John 4:2 as support for the deity of Christ is a pretty huge stretch. But using the doctrine of the deity of Christ as a measuring stick for determining salvation may be an even bigger stretch. Criticizing Catholics over a belief that works matter is also questionable. I never cease to wonder at how willing we evangelicals are to strain out gnats and swallow camels. It is regarded as of utmost importance to accept that Jesus is God, yet often not emphasized what he commanded.

    In Matthew 25:34-45 Jesus talks about separating the sheep from the goats. Presumably he is talking about salvation. But he only mentions works and never mentions his deity. In Mark 10:18-25, Jesus is specifically asked what is required for salvation. Again, he doesn’t talk about his deity. He talks about works, keeping the law. He talks about following him. In Revelation 20, we see the final judgment. All those are judged according to works, not on the basis of their view of Jesus’ divinity. James has plenty to say about works and salvation. What does he say about the divinity of Christ?

    There was a time when I would have dismissed any who didn’t profess the deity of Christ. Now I am not so sure. I accept the doctrine as orthodoxy, but I am not willing to so easily dismiss those who don’t. There are many, many, many people out there who accept the divinity of Christ but who don’t actually follow him. How much will their view of Christ’s divinity matter in the end?

  42. CMP,
    I miss a few days of your blog and look what happens!

    Generally, I appreciated your post. Martin Luther was helped to realize justification by faith alone by another, older monk who was still in the RCC. There are many Catholics who are saved and exhibit the signs of salvation. We should receive all those whom God receives (Romans 14). The fact that we receive genuine believers who are Catholics does not mean that we receive and approve of the RCC, its teachings, and its practices just as receiving genuine Protestant believers does not mean we receive all of Protestantism. Other titles could be substituted for “Prostestant” like evangelical, charismatic, Pentecostal, Arminian, Calvinist, etc.

    Thanks again. I apologize for coming in so late.

  43. I remember going to Campus Crusade for Christ when I went to a Catholic church. I might as well have had leprosy. When people found out I attended a Catholic church, the stares, and talk stuned me. But as I leanred later no one was exempt because many fundagelcials didn’t consider Lutherans to be Christian, main line Protestant to be Christian, Assembly of God, differing Baptist denominations, etc…

    I guess the end state of fundementalism is a million plus denominations each one convinced they have a corner on truth while each other one lives in heresy.

  44. Quote:

    For you to say that Catholics don’t understand what Jesus has done and is doing is such a strange, strange thing. Every single day, every hour of every single day, somewhere in the world, Catholics gather to celebrate the fact that Jesus died for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life and equips us with the saving grace to be God’s children. We Catholics agree that His is the only righteousness necessary for salvation. How can you say we deny it? You say it’s in the Catechism that we deny it, but that’s not true at all.[snip]

    Hello Sparki. To boil it down, no, Romanists do not have the gospel. Your religion has the right Jesus doing part of the work which He really accomplished. Of course my comment cannot address all of the errors of RC – and indeed there are probably more points of contact within your religion than what I am familiar with; however, RC lost the true gospel long ago.

    E.g. baptismal regeneration, mortal and venial sins, priests as alter christus, repeating the bloodless sacrifice of the mass, and more etc. None of these things enhance or reveal the gospel, they obscure and hide it, thus leading billions to hell. It would be unloving of me to say anything else. Too bad this is a comment box and not a coffee shop discussion. Much to say. I’ll read the link – thanks.

  45. Busy making Calvin Capicchinos, Luther Lattes, and teaching. No way to keep up on things here. Getting dozens and dozens of emails about this. I wish I had more time. But, really quick:

    *Read the Rules*…go out of your way to be kind and gracious to each other. As far as I can tell, this has been happening, so I thank you very much.

    I will just delete posts, no matter what tradition you are from, if I don’t sense you are going out of your way to be kind.

    Carry on…

  46. BTW: Lots of posts got auto-filtered and are/were in spam. I think I got most of them out, but some did not fit in with the rules of engagement and remain forever in Purgatory.

  47. Michael writes: “So the question becomes `How can someone believe and confess that their works contribute to their salvation and be saved?’ (as Roman Catholics do). My answer is this: perfect doctrine does not save anyone.”

    I agree with your last sentence. Thus, even if we Catholics are wrong about forensic justification it does not mean that we are not forensically justified.

    Having said that, though, I must say the question you raise presupposes something about Catholic soteriology that is not the case. It may seem to be the case if one accepts exclusive forensic justification. But Catholicism rejects that notion. Thus, “works” do not play the role in Catholicism as they would in a system that accepts the Protestant understanding.

    If you click my name, it will take to an article I published on this matter in The Catholic Thing, “Was Aquinas a Proto-Protestant?”

    Thank you for your thoughtful work, Michael.

    • Frank, I don’t know why, but your post automatically go to spam. There is no reason for this from a settings standpoint. All I can figure is that God does not like your comments as much as mine. Just saying…

  48. Michael writes: “BTW: Lots of posts got auto-filtered and are/were in spam. I think I got most of them out, but some did not fit in with the rules of engagement and remain forever in Purgatory.”

    May I have an indulgence?

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