Tributes are flooding in for the Pope, many referring to his great works and moral leadership. A Cuban cardinal said: “This is a man who has carried the moral weight of the world for 26 years… turning himself into the only moral reference for humanity in recent years of wars and difficulties.” All the news reports and stories mention how everyone is praying. “The Church around the world is united in prayer.”
But what are they praying for? Surely they can’t be praying that he would live longer; at this stage, that would be terrible. They might be praying that he would die – that would be entirely reasonable – but it doesn’t seem so. Maybe some people are.
One guy, interviewed on Radio 4 in St. Peter’s Square, said that “we are praying that his suffering will help the Church, and indeed the whole world”. But that can’t be right. There was only one man whose suffering could help others – Jesus Christ, the man who lived a sinless life yet took the punishment we all deserve.
So why pray for the Pope? Well, I am praying for him – praying that even now, he would repent, stop relying on his deeds and works for salvation as Catholic doctrine wrongly requires (e.g. #837), turn to God and accept the glorious and incredible offer of free, unconditional grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
I don’t really get the point of praying. Is God really going to be influenced by pleas?
all religions are a ruse that has been proven wrong by modern science and common sense.
Is that really how it’s supposed to work? Surely salvation can’t really be unconditional. That would mean somebody evil who happened to accept God would be saved over somebody who did nothing but good with their life but wasn’t Christian.
I’m kind of used to the second part actually (I’m hoping to meet Ghandi when I go to hell). But the idea that evil Christians make it to heaven is new to me.
jr, my common sense tends to agree with you, but I’d like to see your scientific proof. Linkage?
Well, I’m not praying since I’m agnostic, but I love Pope, I love the way he was talking to people, he’s strengh, I admire his work against communism and for ecumenizm. I don’t agree with him in many cases, but I respect his point of view.
His death will be a bad day for us all. The future of Catholic church is dark… radicalizm, conservatizm, anger, fight… Uh :(
But if I’d pray, I’ll pray for his death without suffering – he deserves it. I believe that he also deserves some intimacy in his last days, but that’s something that modern world can’t stand.
You should really set your blog so the posts you do on religion related topics does not show up in planet.mozilla.org, really.
Robin: it’s one of the many amazing things about God. He chooses to work in response to the prayers of his people. But a person also prays because of the effect it has upon themselves. If I am praying “God, I place this situation into your hands”, it helps me to actually do that.
Ami: that really is how it works. All the good stuff we do can never be good enough for God – his standard is perfection. We need to be made perfect, and that happens when we turn from our sinful ways and trust in Jesus to make us so.
So if someone evil truly does turn to God (and, as an inextricable part of that, turns away from their evil) then they will go to heaven. There’s no evil too evil that Jesus’s death cannot deal with it.
[But note that this isn’t the same as “evil Christians go to heaven”. It depends what you mean by evil. In one sense, all Christians are evil because we do things displeasing to God. But in another sense, there’s no such thing as an evil Christian because they’ve turned away from their sin and asked for forgiveness.]
Gerv: That’s a little worrysome. That means that no matter how much I sin in life, I might still end up having to go to heaven if, for example, I go into delusions just before I die and repent by accident.
I’d miss out on meeting Ghandi, Einstein, and a lot of my other heros. I’d have to spend eternity with G.W. Bush.
[Sorry, that was obviously tongue-in-cheek. Thanks for the straight up answer, as I’m not really very knowledgeable about the details of Christianity.]
I don’t particularly understand the praying either (though I understand the blanket news coverage of “old frail man not dead yet” even less), but what I (as a Christian but not a Catholic) find amusing about the office of the pope is that the pope has only been infalible since 1870, when it was decided by a vote, of all things!
So the pope is infalible by approximately the same process that Ashlee Vance who writes for ‘The Register’ is a ladyboy:
Ashlee Vance Poll
Ashlee Vance Poll Results
Ami: I promise you, no one can repent “by accident”. Repenting is not just a general “oops, sorry” feeling. God knows the heart.
If you are interested in knowing more about the details, Two Ways To Live is a good place to start. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to go through.
To simply answer your question (but, alas, not engage your own response), this traditional prayer is what I’m praying for the pope:
May you return to Him
who formed you from the dust of the earth.
May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints
come to meet you as you go forth from this life.
May Christ, who was crucified for you,
bring you freedom and peace.
May Christ, who died for you,
admit you into His garden of paradise.
May Christ, the true Shepherd,
acknowledge you as one of His flock.
May he forgive all your sins
and set you among those He has chosen.
May you see your Redeemer face to face
and enjoy the vision of God forever.
Saints of God, come to his aid!
Come to meet him, angels of the Lord!
May Christ, who called you, take you to Himself;
May angels lead you to Abraham’s side.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon him.
“all religions are a ruse that has been proven wrong by modern science and common sense.”
Common sense is anything but common. Common sense tells you that there is a supreme being who wrote the laws of nature.
Modern science has confirmed that there is a higher power. Or… if you’re talking about the myth called evolution. Well, it breaks several laws of nature. Just a small taste. Evolution states that “…out of this nothingness, something exploded…”
So nothing exploded and here we all are. Doesn’t that sound a little silly? :)
Man cannot explain God.
Also it doesn’t matter how much good or evil you do during your life. It’s all the same to God. He says in the scriptures that if you break one of the least commandments, you are guilty of all. If you are angry against someone it’s as bad as if you’ve committed murder. There are no good or bad people in the eyes of God. There are only those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and those who have not. It’s a choice. And why is it a choice? Because if it wasn’t, you would have to be a robot who does whatever his master commands. The Lord wants a relationship with believers not dictatorship.
Thanks, Gerv, for proving that there’s no such thing as an inappropriate time to deliver the immature message ‘my religion is better than yours’.
>> (though I understand the blanket news coverage of “old frail man not dead yet” even less)
>> what I find amusing about the office of the pope is that the pope has only been infalible since 1870, when it was decided by a vote
That’s like saying that Jesus wasn’t one substance with the Father until 325 AD, that the Holy Spirit was not divine until 381 AD, that images in art were not allowed until 787 AD, that the bread and wine didn’t become the Body and Blood until 1215 AD, and that Tobit (Old Testament book) wasn’t part of the Bible until 1545.
The general rule with the Church is that she doesn’t get around to defining doctrine until someone makes a stink over it. The fact that papal infallibility wasn’t defined until 1870 doesn’t mean it wasn’t both true and widely believed before that time. Just like Catholic painters didn’t wait until 787 to start painting. The exact nature of papal authority has been refined in the Church’s understanding over a long time. Lateran V in the early 1500s, e.g., was mostly a fight about whether the pope or the general council had greater authority (the pope won, and oddly, the council was on his side).
Prayer is a way for the lazy to feel, and appear, virtuous without expending any real effort. How much better the world would be if those who’d spent hours on their knees in very public vigils for Terri Schiavo or the Pope would have used that time to volunteer in a hospice, or had worked and dedicated the proceeds to Parkinson’s research.
That goes for you as well, Gervase. Jesus didn’t direct his followers to broadcast their piety to the world in a blog:
But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your
Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
I pray (in the non-religious sense of the word) that you’ll take a moment to reflect on this.
I personally am praying that God’s will be done, and that God take care of his chief bridge builder.
Not to mention that his actual death will be painful to a lot of people who looked to him and listened to him for guidance. So we might pray for those of us who will be affected by John Paul II’s death.
I’m not saying that Jesus’s teachings should be ignored in favor of this man — far from it. I’m saying that John Paul II has helped us to understand God’s word and intent better.
Personally to me, John Paul II’s condition is painful — he’s the only Pope I’ve ever known, and he’s been very influential over his life. He’s done some great things with God’s help, make no mistake of that. It will not be easy for the College of Cardinals to select a new Bishop of Rome that would be as dynamic and influential as he.
So you’re going to tell Gerv he shouldn’t be praying, and then tell him he should pray differently? Which is it?
Besides, this isn’t broadcast piety, it’s broadcast ignorance of the Catholic Church (test: is the main point ‘I am praying!’ or ‘Catholics believe absurd things!’). Which is nothing new on this blog or in the world.
Brother Markham, Here are a few more scripture passages for you to consider prayerfully. These are taken from the King James version, which most Protestants accept.
1. Faith without works is dead.
James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
2. The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ, who appointed Peter the first pope.
Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
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.
sneerless: anyone who says praying doesn’t expend any real effort obviously hasn’t done much of it :-) As for Matthew 6, you should read the entire passage to see the point Jesus is making.
Joshua: as you say, it’s not necessarily relevant that the doctrine of papal infallibility was only defined in 1870; what’s more relevant is how to square that with the Bible’s insistence that there is no-one righteous, not even one. Even with the help of the Holy Spirit, Christians are all in the same sinful boat. How can we then assert that one of us is capable at will of sinless actions?
Without offense intended, this is what I mean about ignorance. In simplest terms, infallible != sinless, and infallibility isn’t about action at all, but teaching. Catholics aren’t absolute idiots: we didn’t miss or excuse the opulent self-indulgence or bastard children (for example–there have likely been worse sins committed by popes that are not public) of some past popes. Rather, papal infallibility means that when the pope sets out to teach about faith and morals addressing the entire Church on a matter of relevance to the entire Church with the support of the bishops, in those special and narrow cases, the pope will not teach anything in error. It’s not even guaranteed that he’ll get the whole truth of anything or that he’ll explain it well or that anyone will listen to him in light of his own behavior. So the pope can have a Denny’s Sin Slam for breakfast, a McD’s Sin Sandwich for lunch, and a Red Lobster Sin Sampler for dinner, we just know that even if he royally screws up his own soul, the administration of the Church, and the moral witness of the Church, he still won’t screw up the actual doctrine of the Church.
And, of course, that’s b/c the Holy Spirit protects the Church and the office of St Peter, not because the pope is necessarily a real nice guy or anything.
>> There was only one man whose suffering could help others
C.S. Lewis, whose work I have read extensively and for whom I have tremendous respect, seemed to agree on that point (though he wasn’t 100% sure), but I think scripture disagrees with you both. Agreed that Jesus is the only one whose suffering could actually save us, none the less there seems to be work still for the saints (in the sense of believers) in the way of suffering for the sake of others. If not, what is Paul talking about in Colossians 1, especially verse 24?
“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”
Gerv, have you ever read many of the documents the pope has written? He regularly pleads with everyone to “contemplate the face of Christ” and to enter into a deeper personal relationship with their savior. How is that “relying on his deeds and works for salvation”?
Also, why would it be terrible for the pope to recover and live longer? His physical health isn’t perfect, but he is still a human being and has all the God-given dignity that implies.
I’ve also heard a number of people comment that they’re praying that his suffering be … eased (I can’t think of a better word right now). Basically, that he either recover or at least not suffer too much. That’s one thing people are praying for.
There’s also Col 1:24 – “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” Paul seems to be implying that our suffering can be, in some way, a participation in our Lord’s passion.
Joshua: I was careful not to assert that Catholics think the Pope is sinless – I know they don’t. But they do believe that he can issue a completely true pronouncement, and (I argue) if the announcement is completely true, then the process of issuing it must have happened without the corruption of sin. And I can’t find anywhere in the Bible which teaches that we will be free of sin, even for a short time, this side of heaven – even with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Joshua: you beat me to the Colossians :-)
“(I argue) if the announcement is completely true, then the process of issuing it must have happened without the corruption of sin.”
Your conclusion cannot be correct, for then the Bible could not be completely true, either, since it was written by sinners.
Once again, read Matthew 16:19. “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.”
Therefore Peter and his successor popes have the authority to speak on Jesus’ behalf and all Christians should pay attention.
He’s by far one of the people I admire most. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to blog when he passes for over a day now.
IMHO he’s done something rather remarkable. By embracing the position and becoming a “rockstar pope” with his travels and rather unusual personality (I mean that in a good way)… he’s brought God to many people. Even those who aren’t Catholic or aren’t Christian wanted to go see him, watch him on TV when he was on a trip. He holds records worldwide for largest audience, most viewed person, etc. He holds those records even in places where Roman Catholics or Christians are a minority.
The thing I believe I admire the most is the simple ability he had to not just speak as the pope, but as a man. He was able to take advantage of his position to bring attention to human suffering, and many other problems in the world. He didn’t always do this as the pope, but speaking as a man with a large audience.
IMHO the next pope has large shoes to fill. The only thing that should change IMHO is giving a little more control to the churches. The slow burocratic Vatican has just been way to slow to respond to problems like the role of women in the church, priest shortages, and the sex abuse scandle in the US. Quite a few individuals won’t give a penny to the church in protest these days. The churches are now feeling it, and know what the people want… but feel powerless to do anything. It’s a growing problem… and it needs to be addressed.
He’s single handedly moved the Church much closer to the people. He should be a saint just for that. But we need another pope to continue his work so that the Church is with the people.
I had a very long post half-written that rambled too much. Let’s try this instead. (Catholic Layman is alluding to the same point)
Did the apostles at least sometimes teach infallibly?
If you say yes, then obviously infallible teaching even from sinners is possible, though the issue of whether the present pope and bishops (collectively) retain any of that authority is another matter. If you say no, I ask how you know your Bible is wholly reliable.
Gerv- I noticed you didn’t reply to catholic layman’s post regarding the book of James. Now, why could that be… ;-)
And as to “(I argue) if the announcement is completely true, then the process of issuing it must have happened without the corruption of sin” – That is surely incorrected. I could go steal a million dollars from a bank (a grave sin), then come back and write down Euler’s equation perfectly. It would be a perfectly accurate pronouncement, but done under corruption of sin.
Yes, God bless and help us all to be saved, coming to the knowledge of the truth.
Gervase, but for now perhaps it would be better if you restricted yourself more to hacking on code, which I am presuming you are more familiar with, rather than hacking on theology.
Notice how the NIV which I quoted for convenience obfuscates, ‘what was suffered’ vs ‘my sufferings’? I’ve since checked 7 other translations (6 english, 1 french) and they all agree with the sense that you quoted, i.e., ‘my sufferings’.
A little suspicious over there at Zondervan.
I agree, this should not appear on the mozilla feedhouse. Also, I don’t agree with what you say, but that’s okay.
Perhaps because he posted it while I was writing a post, as you can see from the relative timings, so I missed it? :-)
In his letter, James is making the point that if you claim to have faith but your life doesn’t reflect it, then your faith isn’t genuine or saving – which is absolutely true, and Paul would have agreed. But those works do not save you by themselves. In fact, the continuation of my quotation from Ephesians shows Paul was in agreement. After saying that people are saved by faith and not works, he goes on to say what we are saved for:
For both Paul and James, saving faith produces works. There are several good expansions of this point on the end of a Google search for “faith and works in James” – for example, this short one, or this one, which has a particularly good breakdown of the structure and argument of James 2.
I would be interested in an analysis of Ephesians 2:8-10 from those who claim that works are required for salvation.
Colossians 1:24 indeed says that Paul is suffering – but it doesn’t claim that he and Christ suffered for the same reason. Paul is going through hardships so the message can be preached to the church – “for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission…” etc. etc.
Catholic layman: your point about infallibility and the writing of the Bible is a interesting one, but I don’t think it’s comparable with papal infallibility. Jesus promised the original disciples that he would lead them into all truth, which is how we can know the Bible is infallible. But perhaps we’re in agreement on that point, I don’t know.
I don’t agree that Jesus’s words to Peter about keys and binding implies the papacy and all that it involves. The early church was indeed founded on the rock that was Peter, but I don’t see the idea of papal succession in Jesus’s words.
“But those works do not save you by themselves.” No, but neither does faith. Faith AND works. :)
“I would be interested in an analysis of Ephesians 2:8-10 from those who claim that works are required for salvation.”
Those verses support your assertion, but if you will read the *rest* of Ephesians you will find that Paul recommends works as conducive to salvation:
Eph 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
Eph 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
“Colossians 1:24 indeed says that Paul is suffering – but it doesn’t claim that he and Christ suffered for the same reason. Paul is going through hardships so the message can be preached to the church – “for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission…” etc. etc.”
You do realize that the church he is talking about here is the Catholic Church, which was the only church in existence at that time?
“I don’t see the idea of papal succession in Jesus’s words.”
Matthew 16:18 “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.” This means that the Church will endure forever, despite persecution and heretical movements, and since Peter has died, the bishops of the church, in a steady succession up to the present, are his successors and the spokesmen of Christ on earth.
Catholic layman: Jesus Christ is quite sufficient to ensure the continuance of the church on earth. He needs no Popes. Where does the Bible mention a continuing line of infallible successors? Since Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven _and on earth_ (Matthew 28:18-20), the position of Pope is redundant and only open for impostors.
While I had intended to make some comment about being able to find a bible quote to support any position and that the books that together make the bible were assembled by a middle eastern king for his own means I decided that it might be of more interest to mention that the Pope is now dead.
Have a good ‘pray’.
You’re obviously trolling, but I just have to ask: “the books that together make the bible were assembled by a middle eastern king”
That’s a new one on me. To which middle-eastern king were you referring?
Also, of course, since Catholics pray for the dead, we can keep right on trucking.
This is why organised religion is such a load of baloney. You (plural, not just Gervase) write here as if you _know_ some absolute truth that is fundamentally unknowable. The breadth of room for interpretation is enormous yet you deny your own fallibility (and the fallibility of those who have taught you) in proclaiming your own doctrine as truth. The arrogance of it all is astounding.
Thanks for stepping up to the plate on this one Gerv. I totally agree.
Some food for thought Gerv:
Proverbs 11:12 and 16:18
Protestant_layman: yeah, right: with the text of the bible as sole source of authority, we have merely 13,000 or so variants of protestantism. That’s what is redundant here, not the Pope, who is Peter’s successor and the holder of the keys Christ entrusted to Peter.
“There was only one man whose suffering could help others – Jesus Christ, the man who lived a sinless life yet took the punishment we all deserve.”
ThomasMore: Isn’t it amusing that all these protestants have no clue that the New Testament is a catholic book – written by catholics, for catholics, and about catholics?
Yet they always feel free to quote portions of it out of context to support their heretical views, and to ignore the rest of catholic tradition. Ironic!
You appear to have missed “baptism” and “membership of the Catholic Church” off your list of things necessary for salvation in Catholic doctrine.
What works did the thief on the cross next to Jesus perform, to earn the promise “today you will be with me in paradise”?
This passage also supports the position of salvation by faith, inevitably leading to works. “You have been called to a vocation (saved by grace), therefore walk worthy of it (so make sure your deeds match that).” The New Testament is full of commands about how those God has brought into his kingdom should behave, and you have quoted several from Ephesians. But the existence of such commands doesn’t mean that performing those acts is necessary to obtain salvation.
Your identification of the New Testament word translated as ‘church’ (ekklesia) with the present-day organisation called the Catholic Church is a sleight-of-hand. Ekklesia literally means “gathering” or “assembly” – there is no implied massive hierarchical organisation. The fact that the Catholic Church lays claim to be the only legitimate successor to the groups of people described in the book of Acts doesn’t make it true.
Surely it is more arrogant to say “God either does not exist, or has not revealed himself to humans in a way they can know and understand”?
And to the person who signed himself “proud follower of Gerv, the great moral authority”: I don’t consider myself a great moral authority, I certainly don’t seek or want followers, and I hope nothing I have said has implied the contrary. God is the only moral authority – not you, not me, and not the Pope (as the Cuban cardinal quoted in the original post asserts).
That quote (“God either does not exist…”) is quite good. Who are you quoting?
catholic layman: Easy there. Let’s keep in mind that one thing Pope John Paul II strongly emphasized was the dignity of every human person. No need to be insulting (i.e. “have no clue”).
I’d also be hesitant to say the NT was written by Catholics for Catholics. It was written by Christians for the Church. The idea of denominations simply didn’t exist. It was written for all Christians. All Christians trace their roots in some way back to the early Church. If not, they simply wouldn’t be Christians.
Yes, the Catholic Church thinks baptism is necessary for salvation, because Jesus said so: “He who believeth *and is baptized* shall be saved.” See Mark 16:16.
The statement that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation means “that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body” Thus, many baptized protestants will be saved through the church, though they won’t know it until they get to heaven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 846ff.)
We cannot say for certain that the good thief was saved. Jesus told him he would see him today in “paradise”. This is not the same as heaven. It is the abode of the dead where Abraham et. al. were waiting until Jesus opened heaven.
If you want Jesus to tell you in his own words that works are necessary for salvation, in addition to faith, read Matthew, Chapter 25. Do you want to be one of those cast into everlasting fire by Jesus because you failed to perform the works he requires? Or do you want to be one of the righteous who goes into life eternal?
The Catholic Church does not claim to be the only legitimate successor to the apostles. It is recognized that the Orthodox Churches also have legitimate apostolic succession and valid sacraments.
Gerv: A couple comments:
The Catholic Church wouldn’t say necessary, but perhaps normative or ordinary or ideal. We freely acknowledge that God works in many ways. Your comment about the thief on the cross is a perfect example of this. I agree with you there. At the same time, we do believe that baptism and being in the Church is the normal/preferred means.
I really like the way you worded that. Honestly, I think you’ve summed up the Catholic position very well there, though I know that wasn’t your intent.
A few years ago the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches signed an agreement about a common understanding of justification by faith and the relationship of works. You might be interested in it (and I should read it again too…)
Not entirely accurate. For example, we also recognize the legitimacy of a number of the Orthodox Churches.
Ami: it was my own summary of Paul’s position; in hindsight, quotation marks were not appropriate. Apologies for that.
The suspect provenance of Mark 16:9-20 make it dangerous to base doctrine solely on it. Nevertheless, look at the second half of the sentence: “but whoever does not believe will be condemned”. It doesn’t say “whoever does not believe, or who believes and isn’t baptised, will be condemned.” The belief is key; baptism is a following consequence. Baptism is a command of Jesus, and those who believe should indeed be baptised, but (and here we come back to the thief on the cross again) it’s not necessary for salvation.
Are you saying people will get to this paradise but then not get to heaven?
Regarding Matthew 25, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” sounds like predestination and salvation by grace (God’s sovereign choice) to me.
The Catechism appears to say necessary (#1257)… It’s even in big letters in the title.
Well, it’s not the position apparently held by Jafe, for example (see earlier comment). But if it’s your position, and you really mean the same things by the words that I mean by them – i.e. “salvation-by-faith which then inevitably leads to works”, rather than “salvation by faith-and-the-works-it-inevitably-leads-to”, then we are in agreement on this point and I’m very happy for you :-) Knowing God’s grace is a wonderfully freeing thing.
True, but it does qualify that statement in the first paragraph: “Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.” (emphasis mine) So, it’s only considered necessary within a certain context. And even then it allows for exceptions (such as the so-called “baptism by desire”).
The Catechism is not denying the possibility that people can receive salvation apart from the sacrament of baptism. If it did deny that possibility, it would be the same as saying that all who have not been baptized (in a strictly literal sense) are damned. The Church does not claim to know who (if anyone) is in Hell. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches (among others) do make statements about certain individuals that are believed to be in Heaven (“the Saints”), but not who’s in Hell. We simply don’t know. (A number of relatively modern Catholic theologians have raised the hope that Hell could even be “empty” and that all people have repented and received salvation through Christ in some way.)
Gerv- So baptism is not necessary? Explain Jesus’s words to Nicodemus: “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.” (John 3:5)
Salvation through Christ is by grace and grace alone.
The thief on the cross was not baptized, yet he was saved.
Without grace, Christ’s suffering on the cross was worthless.
What sense would it make to die for someone’s sins and then still expect them to work to get to heaven?
Is it possible to be a Christian by following the teachings of Paul, and ignoring the teachings of Jesus?
Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”
Matthew 25:41ff “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungred, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink . . . Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
The first bit alone would be arrogant but I don’t see where the arrogance comes from in the second part.
It seems self evident from this thread alone that there is no clear and common human understanding of God even from people who seem to be trying quite hard to get that understanding and who read from the same book. I do not really see how aknowledging human fallibility can be arrogant.
What we need is a Mozilla extension that blocks religious comments from ‘popping up’ in inappropriate places. One moment your children are innocently reading about IDN homograph spoofing and path-based checksums, then WHAM! there’s blatant explicit no-holds-barred religious bigotry all over the place.
Jafe: I don’t think Jesus was referring to baptism when he was talking to Nicodemus. After all, Christian baptism hardly existed at the time – it would be an anachronism. I think there are clues as to what he’s talking about in the previous verses (“Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”) and the next verse (“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit”), which is a parallel with “water and the spirit”. (John 3).
catholic layman: are you saying that the teachings of Paul and of Jesus are in conflict? If so, we are all rather in trouble, aren’t we? I’ve already commented on Mark 16 and Matthew 25.
Paul: I see where you are coming from – at first look, it seems to make sense that because humans disagree about God, God hasn’t been clear enough in revealing himself. But Christianity teaches that humans wilfully reject God (this is what is meant by ‘sin’) even when they do know of him. So it’s not surprising that there is disagreement.
God has revealed himself in a way humans can understand by coming to earth and living a perfect life as a human. I believe that the truths of Christianity are clear to anyone who reads the Bible with an open mind and a searching heart. And I would encourage everyone not to take my word for anything, but to read it in that manner and see for themselves.
Gerv: I’m not saying that that the teachings of Paul and Jesus are in conflict. I don’t think they are. But I am saying that if our *interpretation* of Paul’s teachings appears to contradict the recorded verbatim teachings of Jesus in the gospels, it is a warning that we have misinterpreted Paul.
catholic layman: but what if our interpretation of one of Jesus’s parables (which, after all, were word pictures designed to make a particular point, and which he claimed some would not understand) contradicts the clear and unambiguous teaching of Paul and others? Why could it not be that we’ve misinterpreted the parable?
Gerv: “clear and unambiguous” is in the eyes of the beholder, isn’t it? The gospels contain verbatim accounts of Jesus’ teachings and I believe we should give those quotes a place of special honor above all other passages of scripture. The other books of the New Testament also contain some quotes, but they consist largely of efforts of the apostles to interpret and record Jesus’ teachings for posterity.
We are in agreement that saving faith of itself produces good works, and this is the teaching of the Catholic Church as well. My point is that we can verify that we are saved, if our faith is producing the specific works commanded by Jesus.
I’m not sure why you would throw together a post like this. After 300 years, Protestants are still protesting the Catholic church . . . how novel. Give it a rest. Sheesh.
I enjoyed your post and think it is great that you take the time to interact with those who comment.
I was impressed that you were so bold in stating that you were praying that the pope would repent and believe the gospel of grace. It is a shame that there aren’t many more of God’s people so willing to speak the truth about the gospel at this time.
Let me just say that I commend your openness towards Christ and expressing your feelings. I hope that you continue to post religious and, even more importantly, Christ-related blogs. I agree with your comments and hope that others will come to agree and believe.
I’ve included a link to a church website that has resources that others may be interesting in. Of particular interest are God and Science, apologetics and ChristianAnswers.net.
Again, thank you for showing your faith and standing firm for Christ.
Jesus came to save the world, not the Pope. The Bible was written by men, men that were inspired by the Holy Spirit which is why the bible contains Truth). When Jesus left the earth he left the Holy Spirit behind to help us in our walk and ministry. The Bible was written by men who sinned, but were forgiven by God’s grace because they chose to accept his FREE offer. Accept Jesus or die. It sounds harsh, but God makes the rules, not the Pope. The Pope states that you can be saved by works, but this is a great lie perpetrated by the devil(just like Evolution). You can trust the word of God, not the Pope. The Pope may have been a “good” man, but he was NOT saved. “Good” will get you nowhere. When you accept Jesus as your savior you WANT to do good for others, it’s not the other way around. Don’t stop asking questions, but don’t foget the most important part: Pray without ceasing, as Jesus did. The Lord and the Holy Spirit will speak to you with the very small voice. ASK FOR WISDOM FROM GOD and don’t stop mediatating on scripture. This is a command from God.
Religion is death, a personal relationship with Christ is LIFE!
well meaning isn’t enough,
ps, My family used to be Catholic, but we started asking questions and we WENT TO THE SOURCE(Jesus). You cannot pray others into heaven. If this were true then Jesus would not have needed to come and die for those who believe in him.
Tom, I applaud your truthful comments!! Why aren’t more Catholics asking those same questions?? They need to go to the SOURCE, and I pray that they DO!!
[Apologies for the delay]
catholic_layman: It seems that we’ve come down (as many discussions do) to our differing views of Scripture. I see all Scripture as equally inspired by God, and don’t think those parts of it which consist of reported words of Jesus are any more inspired than the rest. (This says something about my high view of the rest, not any low view about the words of Jesus.)