Katholisch Leben!

Den katholischen Glauben kennen, leben, lieben & verteidigen!


Evangelikale: https://www.katholisch-leben.org/evangelikale.htm

Fundamentalisten: https://www.katholisch-leben.org/fundamentalisten.htm

Baptisten: https://www.katholisch-leben.org/baptisten.htm

Pfingstgemeinden: https://www.katholisch-leben.org/pfingstgemeinden.htm

Brüdergemeinden: https://www.katholisch-leben.org/bruedergemeinden.htm

Gemeinden Christi: https://www.katholisch-leben.org/gemeindenchristi.htm


(Anmerkung: Der Begriff "Freikirchen" wird hier nur umgangssprachlich verwendet, da es sich hier mangels apostolischer Nachfolge und damit Priestertum und Eucharistie zwar um christliche Gemeinden, nicht aber um christliche Kirchen - wie etwa die orthodoxe oder die katholische Kirche - handelt. Dies gilt übrigens auch für die evangelische Kirche).


Manchmal vertretene Glaubensinhalte:

The Rapture: https://www.katholisch-leben.org/therapture.htm

Born Again (wiedergeboren): https://www.katholisch-leben.org/bornagain.htm


Problems With Protestantism - There is No Protestant Catechism

If you ask a Catholic, "What does the Catholic Church teach on..." and then name any particular topic, the Catholic can reply, "Well, you just need to look in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) for the answer to that."

If you ask a Protestant, "What does the Protestant Church teach on..." and then name any particular topic, the Protestant cannotreply, "Well, you just need to look in the Catechism of the Protestant Church (CPC) for the answer to that." They can't say that because there is no such thing as a Protestant Catechism. But, why is that a "Problem With Protestantism"?

It's a problem, because of what Paul said to Timothy: "...remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine," (1 Tim 1:3). Paul told Timothy to tell certain people "not to teach any different doctrine."

There is no such thing as a Catechism of the Protestant Church, because there are people teaching "different doctrine" all over the place. For instance, some Protestant denominations teach that infant baptism is okay. Others say it's not. Some say baptism is regenerative (that through baptism one is "born again"). Others say it's merely symbolic. Some denominations teach the rapture. Some don't. Some teach a pre-tribulation rapture. Others teach a mid-tribulation rapture. Still others teach a post-tribulation rapture. There are denominations that teach once saved always saved. There are others that deny once saved always saved. There are those denominations that teach salvation by faith alone. There are those denominations that don't. There are denominations that have priests. There are denominations that don't. There are denominations that have bishops. There are denominations that don't. You have denominations that have sacraments. You have denominations that don't. There are denominations that teach men can marry men and women can marry women. There are denominations that say marriage is between one man and one woman. There are denominations that worship on Saturday. There are denominations that worship on Sunday. Certain denominations allow divorce and remarriage. Certain denominations don't. A number of denominations say abortion is okay. A number of denominations say it's not. The Bible is inerrant. The Bible is not inerrant. God is Father. No, God is Mother. God is three Persons but one God. No, God is one Person but is known by three different names.

And on and on and on I could go. So you cannot have a Catechism of the Protestant Church because on any given topic that would be discussed in a theoretical Protestant catechism you would have a minimum of two different teachings and possibly several different teachings. In other words, there is no teaching on faith and morals that you can say is universal throughout Protestantism, with the possible exception of Sola Scriptura - the Bible alone as the sole rule of faith. Although, there are different interpretations of even that fundamental dogma of Protestant teaching. For example: Is the Bible the "sole" authority or the sole "infallible" authority when it comes to questions of faith and morals? Depends on which Protestant you ask.

The fact that there is no such thing as a Protestant catechism is directly related to the fact that there are people teaching "different doctrine" all over the place within Protestantism. How can that be okay? How do Protestants live with that fact? Well, they will tell you that, "Yes, there are differences in doctrine, but those differences are in the 'non-essential' doctrines, not in the 'essential' doctrines." Well, that's delusional at best, and deceitful at worst. Wouldn't the Trinity be an "essential" doctrine? Yet, there are those who have accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts as their personal Lord and Savior (i.e., they are "saved" Christians), who don't believe in the Trinity! If baptism is regenerative, then wouldn't infant baptism be an "essential" doctrine (unless one is born again of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God - John 3:3-5)? Yet, Protestants are divided on infant baptism. So, not only are Protestants divided on many, if not all, of the so-called "essential" doctrines, they are even divided on what one should consider an essential vs. non-essential doctrine.

Regardless of all that, the problem for Protestants is that Paul told Timothy to tell these other folks not to teach "ANY" different doctrine. Any! I mean, let's think about this: Did Jesus teach any different doctrines to Peter than He taught to James and John? When the Holy Spirit guided the Apostles into "all the truth" (John 16:13), did He guide Bartholomew to any different doctrinal truths than He guided Philip? When the Holy Spirit brought to the Apostles remembrance all that Jesus had told them (John 14:26), did He cause Jude to remember any different doctrinal teachings than He caused Thomas to remember? Did Paul maybe really mean to say to Timothy, "...charge certain persons not to teach any different essential doctrines?"

No, no, no, and no! Jesus did not teach different doctrines to different Apostles - ANY different doctrine. The Apostles, having been taught by Jesus and enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit, did not teach different doctrines to their disciples - ANY different doctrine. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, commanded Timothy, his disciple, to prevent other disciples from teaching different doctrine - ANY different doctrine. Paul, again under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, taught Titus, his disciple, that any men Titus would ordain as bishops "must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that [they] may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it." Hold firm. Sure word. As taught. Sound doctrine. Confute those who contradict the sound doctrine. There is no room here for teaching "any different doctrine". There is nothing here about it being okay to disagree on the "non-essentials" as long as you agree on the "essentials".

In fact, this whole thing about it being okay to disagree on the non-essentials is a crock. Jesus said if you can be trusted in the small things, then you can be trusted in the bigger things (Luke 16:10; Matt 25:21), but if you can't be trusted in the small things, then you can't be trusted in the bigger things. So, to acknowledge that you can't be trusted in the small things - that you could be wrong in the "non-essentials" - but then claim that you can indeed be absolutely trusted to get it right when it comes to the bigger things - the "essentials" - is the exact opposite of what Jesus teaches! If you can't get the small things right, then how can you be trusted in the bigger things?

So, knowing that neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit taught different doctrines to the Apostle and other disciples. And knowing that the Apostles, who were guided by the Holy Spirit, did not teach different doctrines to their disciples and converts. And knowing that the Apostles saw to it - as Paul's example shows us - that their disciples did not teach different doctrines to the next generation of disciples, why is it that teaching different doctrines within different denominations is all hunky dory within Protestantism? Hmmm...good question.

All of this is why not having a Protestant catechism is a problem with Protestantism. Now, let me address two objections I've received in the past when I've asked people about the fact that there is no such thing as a Protestant catechism:

1) Yes, there is such a thing as a Protestant catechism. For example, there are various "Confessions" within Protestantism that are, essentially, catechisms.

2) There are just as many divisions and different beliefs in Catholicism, so you can't really say Catholics have a unity of belief that is reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

To the former argument, I say this: The very fact that I am referred to several different confessions of faith (or catechisms) when I make the argument that there is no Protestant equivalent to the CCC, is proof of my argument. There is no one source within Protestantism that a Catholic can consult to find out what Protestants believe on any given article of faith or morals. That is not true of Catholicism. Furthermore, the confessions of faith that I am often referred to - such as the Thirty-nine Articles (Anglican – 1563); Belgic Confession (Christian Reformed – 1561), Augsburg Confession (Lutheran – 1530), Baptist Confession (Baptist – 1689), Westminster Confession (Methodist – 1646), and others - all conflict with one another in one or more areas...further proving my point. Those confessions may be good for their particular denomination (although many of the articles within those confessions are no longer believed by even those particular denominations), but they are not universally held within Protestantism. (For more on this, see my Issue #255: Protestant Catechism?

To the latter argument, I say this: There is one body of teaching in the Catholic Church...one. If there are folks who call themselves Catholic, but who do not agree with one or more doctrines and dogmas of the Church, then these people are known as dissenters. They are, in essence, Protestants. They are no longer one with the Church. The body of doctrine and dogmas of the Church, however, is one. In Protestantism, is there one set body of doctrine and dogmas? No, there is not. In Protestantism, you have a myriad of beliefs (all supposedly from the one and same Bible) spanning a myriad of denominations and it is a perfectly acceptable situation to most Protestants to have all of these varying beliefs. One is not a dissenter or a heretic in Protestantism, one merely starts a new denomination and then their different belief (or beliefs) is accepted as normal, at least, for that denomination. So, yes, there are dissenters to Catholic teaching within the Church and they may indeed try to pass off as "Catholic" the dissent that they teach, but it has no official stamp of approval from anyone. There is an authoritative body within the Catholic Church (the Pope and the Magisterium) that is recognized as such by Catholic and non-Catholic alike, which gives witness to only one set of official and authoritative beliefs in Catholicism - the set of beliefs found in the CCC. Protestantism has nothing similar.

In closing, I will repeat what I said in Issue #255 of Apologetics for the Masses: "Regarding the Protestant catechisms you mention, do you really wish to contend that they are similar to the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Really?! The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a systematic and detailed explanation of the Catholic Faith. If someone reads that, they will know the official teaching of the Catholic Church. Which catechism can I read that gives me the official teachings of each and every Protestant? Is the Reformed catechism the official teaching of the Baptists? Is the Baptist catechism the official teaching of the Methodist church? And what about all of those non-denominational denominations out there? Where are the catechisms with their official teachings? Which of the Protestant catechisms that you know of represent the official teaching of all of Protestantism? Sorry, but there is no source book a Catholic can go to in order to find the official teaching of all of Protestantism. That book does not exist. Whereas, there is a source book that Protestants can go to in order to find the official teaching of all Catholics."

All of that is to say, that the non-existence of a Catechism of the Protestant Church is a "Problem With Protestantism" because it highlights the fact that there is no one, official, authoritative, set of beliefs in Protestantism; yet, the Bible clearly shows us there was one, official, authoritative set of beliefs in the early Church - the Church that Jesus founded. And, there still is, today, one, official, authoritative set of beliefs in the Catholic Church - the Church that Jesus founded.

(Source: http://www.biblechristiansociety.com October 19th, 2019)

Call for action: Catholic or Protestant - we have been separated for too long. If we wait till our leaders lead us back together, we can just as well give it up. It is simply not going to happen. So let's take over and do the next step to become the one Church and the one body that Jesus and His apostles called us for. Let's stream into each other's services, fill our houses, let's unite on the ground level and show them it can - and will! - be done!

Spoken or unspoken, this is a common question that many non-Catholics wrestle with. Like many interactions between...

Posted by The Coming Home Network International on Donnerstag, 24. März 2016

“There are congregations on nearly every corner. I'm not sure we need more churches. What we need is a church. I say one church is better than fifty. I have tried to remove the plural form churches from my vocabulary, training myself to think of the church as Christ did, and as the early Christians did. The metaphors for her are always singular – a body, a bride. I heard one gospel preacher say it like this, as he really wound up and broke a sweat: "We've got to unite ourselves as one body. Because Jesus is coming back, and he's coming back for a bride not a harem.”

― Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical 

"It is necessary to enter into a real friendship with Jesus in a personal relationship with him and not to know who...

Posted by Scott Hahn on Sonntag, 25. Oktober 2015

Following Jesus means listening to His Bride




11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.(1) In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him (2) they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, (3) they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. (4)

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

12. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.

To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. (7) For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. (8)

But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, (9) no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. (10)

13. In Sacred Scripture, therefore, while the truth and holiness of God always remains intact, the marvelous "condescension" of eternal wisdom is clearly shown, "that we may learn the gentle kindness of God, which words cannot express, and how far He has gone in adapting His language with thoughtful concern for our weak human nature." (11) For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men.


Freikirchen und die Katholische Kirche

Ein schwieriges Verhältnis - von beiden Seiten. Grund: es wird zwar oft und gerne behauptet, man sehe in den jeweils anderen ebenfalls Christen, in der Realität haben die Gläubigen aber in den seltensten Fällen direkten Kontakt miteinander. Selbst in den Ordinariaten beschränkt sich das wissen um die Glaubensinhalte und die Glaubenspraxis der Freikirchen oft auf das, was man von anderen gehört oder irgendwo gelesen hat. Traurig, dass man/frau sich dann auf Basis solchen "Wissens" eine Meinung bildet. Traurig auch, das "ökumenische" Gottesdienste sich zumeist auf Wortgottesdienste mit evangelischen Christinnen und Christen bezieht. Kontakte mit anderen christlichen Gemeinschaften besteht in der Regel nur im Rahmen von diversen Arbeitskreisen oder ähnlichem. Dabei könnten wir doch so viel voneinander lernen! Abgesehen davon sind wir als Christinnen und Christen - nicht nur auf offizieller Basis! -. gerufen, die eine Kirche als den einen Leib Christi aufzubauen. Und das nicht nur auf dem Papier oder als Absichtserkärung für die ferne Zukunft, sondern hier und heute - und ganz praktisch.

Was bedeutet eigentlich das "frei" in "Freikirchen?"

Freikirchen oder freie evangelische Gemeinden werden in der Regel deshalb "frei" genannt, weil dies die Trennung von Staat und Kirche betont. Diese Gemeinden sind sowohl von Staat wie von der Kirche (bzw. den beiden großen Kirchen) unabhängig.

"Evangelisch" sind solche Gemeinden nicht nur mit Bezug auf das Evangelium und der Verbreitung desselben sowie der Ausrichtung des persönlichen Lebens auf die Lehre der Heiligen Schrift hin, sondern auch auf Basis der gemeinsamen Grundlage (Reformation / Martin Luther).


Unterschiede im Bibelverständnis zwischen Katholiken und "Freikirchlern"

Eine gängige Praxis bei evangelikalen oder anderen nicht-katholischen Christinnen und Christen:

Um zu erfahren, was die Bibel zu einem bestimmten Thema sagt, suchen sie nach Bibelstellen hierzu - also Bibelstellen, die genau dieses Wort oder Thema enthalten. Diese Bibelstellen werden dann als "Beleg" für Aussagen der Bibel zu diesem Thema verwendet und im täglichen Leben angewandt.

Das ist eine sehr ehrenwerte Einstellung, aber unvollständig.

Katholiken sehen die Bibel als Ganzes, als eine Einheit. Sie verstehen, dass das Neue Testament bereits im Alten "verborgen" ist und das Alte Testament im Neuen enthüllt wird. Beides kann nur zusammen gesehen werden. Auch verstehen sie, dass Bibelverse, die aus dem Zusammenhang gerissen werden, um irgendwelche Aussagen zu treffen, verzerrte bzw. missverständliche Ergebnisse bringen können.

Betrachtet man die Bibel als Ganzes und beachtet vor allem auch alle Prinzipien der Bibelauslegung, so stellt man oft fest, dass die Bibel zu bestimmten Einzelthemen keine direkten Aussagen macht, wohl aber die Standards setzt, nach denen diese Einzelthemen beurteilt werden können.

My Protestant friends say that their church goes by the Bible Alone, but that the Catholic Church has added a lot of man-made traditions to the Word of God...is that true?

No, it is not true. Protestants have as their sole rule of faith the written Word of God, which we find in Sacred Scripture. The Catholic Church has as its sole rule of faith, the entire Word of God, as it is found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

All of the Word of God was at one time passed on orally...Sacred Tradition. Eventually, some of Sacred Tradition was written down...this became Sacred Scripture, which is written tradition. However, Scripture itself tells us that not all of the things that Jesus said and did were written down. And listen to what Paul says about "tradition":

2 Thes 2:15, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." Traditions! Traditions taught by word of mouth, in other words, oral tradition, and traditions taught by letter. Traditions which they are being told to "stand firm and hold to". Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

1 Cor 11:2, "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you." The Corinthians are being commended by Paul because they maintain the traditions that he passed on to them. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

2 Tim 2:2: "and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." What we have here in 2 Timothy is an instance, in Scripture, of Paul commanding the passing on of oral tradition.

1 Thes 2:13, "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers." So, they received as the Word of God that which they heard, not simply that which they read in Scripture.

In other words, the Bible clearly supports the Catholic Church's teaching that the Word of God is contained in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. 

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute#1. Used with permission)

A friend of mine said that his church takes the Bible literally, but that the Catholic Church doesn't...is that true?

Actually, there is no truth to that, whatsoever. Catholics interpret the Bible in a "literal" sense, while many fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and others interpret the Bible in a literalist sense.

The "literal" meaning of a passage of Scripture is the meaning that the author of that passage of Scripture intended to convey. The "literalist" interpretation of a passage of Scripture is: "that's what it says, that's what it means."

Let me give you an example to illustrate the difference. If you were to read a passage in a book that said it was "raining cats and dogs outside", how would you interpret that? As Americans, in the 21st Century, you would know that the author was intending to convey the idea that it was raining pretty doggone hard outside. That would be the "literal" interpretation...the interpretation the author intended to convey. On the other hand, what if you made a "literalist" interpretation of the phrase, "it's raining cats and dogs"?

The "literalist" interpretation would be that, were you to walk outside, you would actually see cats and dogs falling from the sky like rain. No taking into account the popularly accepted meaning of this phrase. No taking into account the author's intentions. The words say it was raining cats and dogs, so, by golly, it was raining cats and dogs! That is the literalist, or fundamentalist, way of interpretation.

If someone 2000 years in the future picked up that same book and read, "It was raining cats and dogs outside," in order to properly understand that passage in the book, they would need a "literal" interpretation, not a "literalist" interpretation. Now, think about that in the context of interpreting the Bible 2000-3000 years after it was written.

Literal, or Catholic, interpretation vs. literalist, or fundamentalist, interpretation.

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute#1. Used with permission)

How should I respond to someone who asks me if I've been saved, or born again?

Answer with a resounding, "Yes!" Tell them that it is through Baptism that you were saved, just as the Bible says in 1 Ptr 3:20-21 and that it is through Baptism, water and the Spirit, that you are "born again," just as the Bible says in John 3:5.

You see, many Protestants believe that they are saved by making one single act of faith at one single point in time in their lives. Nowhere does Scripture say such a thing. As Catholics, however, we believe that salvation is a process which begins with our Baptism and continues throughout our lifetimes, just as the Bible teaches us.

There are so many places in Scripture, which talk about how one is "saved", but not one of them says we are saved by one act of faith at just one point in time. As I just mentioned, 1 Ptr 3:20 says we are saved by baptism. In Hebrews 12:14 it says that we will not see the Lord unless we are holy, and that we have to strive for this holiness. In Matthew 6:14-15, it says we must forgive others or we will not be forgiven. Can you attain salvation if God hasn't forgiven you? No! So, our forgiving others is necessary for our salvation.

1 Tim 2:15 says that woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with modesty. John 6:54 says we will have eternal life by doing something...eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Matthew 19, verses 16 and 17, Jesus is asked directly what one must do to have eternal life. Did He say, accept me into your heart once and that's it? No! Jesus said to keep the commandments and you will have life.

Yes, as Catholics we are born again. And, as Catholics we believe that we were saved, as Paul says in Rom 8:24; that we are being saved, as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:18; and that we will be saved, as Paul says in Rom 5:9-10, provided we persevere and keep our eyes on the prize. Salvation is a process, just as Catholics believe, and just as the Bible clearly teaches.

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute#1. Used with permission)

Is my eternal salvation in heaven with God secured?


Okay, I received the question below via email from David who is in an online debate with some non-Catholics and who describes it as his first attempt at apologetics. It is one of those Evangelical “test questions,” as I call them, which are asked in order to determine whether or not the person being questioned is “really” a Christian or not. I’ve put down how I would answer the question.


Evangelical Test Question:

If you subscribe to Roman Catholicism as your religion of choice then out of love we ask this VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: Is your eternal salvation in heaven with God secured and if so how did this come about? The lead admin of PRO–LIFE ROCKS, who is now by choice an Evangelical Protestant Christian, was raised Roman Catholic from a baby but this question was never brought up and/or the answer covered by any priest and/or in his confirmation classes.

My Response:

I very much appreciate your question, and out of love I will answer it and will also ask you, out of love, a question or two of my own.    

Is my eternal salvation in heaven with God secured?  Yes, as long as I do not separate myself from God through sin.  As I’m sure you know, 1 John 5:16R 11;17 talks about the “sin unto death,” because it is sin that kills the soul…sin that separates us from Jesus Christ Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  So, as long as I do not commit a sin unto death – or what we Catholics would call a “mortal” sin – then, yes, my salvation with God is secured. 

Now, you may ask, how exactly is it that we can separate ourselves from Christ?  Well, we separate ourselves from Christ by, in essence, not following His teachings.  By not doing what He has told us we must do, or doing what He has told us we must not do.  For example, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that in order to have our sins forgiven, we must forgive the sins of others.  If we don’t, then our sins are not forgiven.  Can we get into Heaven if our sins are not forgiven?  No, we can’t.  So, we must forgive the sins of others in order to get into Hea ven, in order to not separate ourselves from Christ – that is a plain truth of Scripture. We must also care for our families as we are able.  This is very clear in 1 Tim 5:8 where we are told that anyone who does not provide for his family has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  Someone who is worse than an unbeliever can’t get into Heaven, can they?  They have separated themselves from Christ.

Then in John 6, Jesus tells us that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood, or we have no life in us.  So, can we be saved if we have no life in us?  if we do not eat His flesh and drink His blood, will we get to Heaven?   We also have to love our brother.  It says so plainly in 1 John 4:20.   We also have to seek for glory and honor and immortality by patience in well–doing, according to Rom 2:6–7, in order to have eternal life rendered unto us. 

In Hebrews 6:4–6, it t ells us we can separate ourselves from Christ through apostasy.  In Romans 11:22 it says we will be cut off from Christ if we do not continue in God’s kindness.  And, in John 15:1–6, it tells us that we will be cut off from the vine which is Christ if we do not produce good fruit. 

I could go on with many other examples, but I want to move on to your 2nd question: How did this [eternal salvation] come about?  By the grace of God.  Because it is by the grace of God that we are born again through Christ – which is what occurs through Baptism.  As Jesus tells us in John 3:3–5, we must be born again of water and the Spirit (Baptism).  Without this, He says, no one may enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  As it says in Acts 2:38, through Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit and our sins are forgiven.  God freely gives us His grace – grace merited for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – th rough Baptism.  His grace washes us free of sin and brings us into covenant with Him (Titus 2:4–7).   And it is by faith that we turn to Baptism to receive the promise of Christ – redemption unto eternal salvation (Rom 2:25).  Because without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).  And, this is not our doing, “lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8–9), it is a completely gratuitous act of God on our behalf. 

So, God freely saves us by His grace; however, to reiterate what was said above, in order to avoid separation from Christ, we must follow Him by denying ourselves and picking up our cross daily (Luke 9:23).  Furthermore, we must do His will in order to be saved (Matt 7:21).  I guess a good one verse summary of the Catholic belief in salvation is this: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love,” (Gal 5:6).

Now, as I mentioned, I have a couple of questions for you:

1) How would you answer the question: “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?”   

2) Have you judged yourself to be saved?

My Strategy:

What I am doing here is using the Bible to show these folks that the Catholic Church’s teaching on salvation is very much in line with the Bible.  I am giving them a Catholic perspective on a number of Scripture verses that I can pretty much guarantee they have never considered before.  I am giving them some verses that they may never have “seen” in the Bible.  In other words, verses that they just skim right over ordinarily without giving any consideration to, but which they now have to stop and think about. 

By the very fact of their question, they are showing their cards –  they believe in salvation by faith alone, and they also believe in once save d, always saved – also known as the doctrine of eternal security.  Once you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior, then that’s it – nothing you do or don’t do can get you unsaved.  No amount of sin, no amount of hate, no amount of apostasy…nothing can get you unsaved. 

Neither of these dogmas – salvation by faith alone or once saved always saved – however, are in the Bible.  So, by using a few select Bible verses, I am showing them that not only is Catholic teaching biblical, but their teaching is not.  Finally, by asking them a couple of questions, that are based directly on a couple of Scripture verses, I am giving them some fat to chew on, because they are going to have a difficult time reconciling their answers to both the Bible and their beliefs.

For example, the first question is straight from Matthew 19, where the rich young man asks Jesus that very questi on.  Jesus answers by saying, “Keep the Commandments.”  Yet, I know of not one single believer in salvation by faith alone, who would answer that question like Jesus did.  The believer in salvation by faith alone would say, “There is no deed that you can do that will result in eternal life!”  Yet, Jesus says keeping the Commandments will get you there.  So, they are in the position of answering in accord with their belief, or in accord with Scripture – one or the other, but not both.  That’s a bit of a problem for a “bible–only” believer.

The second question comes from 1 Cor 4:4–5.  You see, folks who believe in once saved always saved have already judged themselves as being irrevocably saved.  Yet, we find in 1 Cor 4, that Paul – who if anyone was “saved” it was Paul right? – Paul does not judge himself as being saved, and he goes on to say to le ave judgment for the Lord.  So, anyone who judges themself as being already saved, is doing something that runs directly contrary to what Paul says here in Scripture.  Oops. 

Finally, one of the things I did was to use several verses from Romans in explaining the Catholic Faith, because many Protestants tend to think that Romans is “their” epistle and that just about everything in it proves the Catholic Church wrong, so I try to use quotes from Romans as much as possible when explaining/defending Catholic teaching.  In my explanation of Catholic teaching I also used what many Protestants consider their “trump” verse against Catholics when it comes to salvation by faith alone – Ephesians 2:8–9.  What Protestants do not understand is that Eph 2:8–9, nor any other verse of Scripture for that matter, is in no way contrary to Catholic teaching, when Catholic teaching is properly understood and not made to be some caricature of what it actually is.  So, by using their trump verse to explain Catholic teaching, I turn the tables on them and take away what they see as one of the main arrows in their quiver.

(Source: John Martignoni / Bible Christian Society. Used with permission) 

Many Protestants believe we are saved by Faith Alone and they say Catholic believe they can “work” their way into Heaven. How do you answer that?

First of all, I ask them to show me where in the Catechism, the official teaching of the Catholic Church, does it teach that we can “work” our way into Heaven? They can’t, because it doesn’t. The Catholic Church does not now, nor has it ever, taught a doctrine of salvation by works...that we can “work” our way into Heaven.

Second, I ask them to show me where in the Bible does it teach that we are saved by “faith alone.” They can’t, because it doesn’t. The only place in all of Scripture where the phrase “Faith Alone” appears, is in James...James 2:24, where it says that we are not...not...justified (or saved) by faith alone.

So, one of the two main pillars of Protestantism...the doctrine of salvation by faith alone...not only doesn’t appear in the Bible, but the Bible actually says the exact opposite - that we are not saved by faith alone

Third, I ask them that if works have nothing to do with our salvation...then how come every passage in the N.T. that I know of that talks about judgment says we will be judged by our works, not by whether or not we have faith alone? We see this in Rom 2, Matthew 15 and 16, 1 Ptr 1, Rev 20 and 22, 2 Cor 5, and many, many more verses.

Fourth, I ask them that if we are saved by faith alone, why does 1 Cor 13:13 say that love is greater than faith? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

As Catholics we believe that we are saved by God’s grace alone. We can do nothing, apart from God’s grace, to receive the free gift of salvation. We also believe, however, that we have to respond to God’s grace. Protestants believe that, too. However, many Protestants believe that the only response necessary is an act of faith; whereas, Catholics believe a response of faith and works is necessary...or, as the Bible puts it in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumsion is of any avail, but faith working through love...faith working through love...just as the Church teaches. 

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute#1. Used with permission)

I need some help. Sometimes when I share my Catholic faith with people, they mention to me that Catholics like to drink alcohol and how wrong that is. How do I respond to this?

I would ask them to tell you where in the Scriptures does it say anything about drinking alcohol being wrong? Quick answer: it doesn't. It says getting drunk is wrong, but it doesn't say merely drinking is wrong. In fact, it tells us just the opposite:

1 Tim 3:8, "Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine..." Obviously, it is okay for them to drink some wine, they just cannot be addicted to "much" wine. Moderation is the key.

1 Tim 4:4, "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving." The materials from which alcohol is made are all natural materials made by God.

1 Tim 5:23, "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." Timothy is ordered to drink wine. All 3 accounts of the Last Supper in Matthew, Mark, and Luke have Jesus and the Apostles drinking wine (the "fruit of the vine").

Jesus' first miracle was to turn some 120-180 gallons of water into wine (John 2:3-10) for folks to drink. And, it was better wine than any of the wine that had already been served at that particular wedding.

Matthew 15:10-11, "Hear and understand, not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth..." Luke 7:33-34, "For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, 'Behold, a glutton and a drunkard..." Now, what do you think Jesus was drinking that they would have called Him a drunkard? Grape juice? I don't think so.

Now, this is not to say that He was a drunkard - obviously He wasn't. But, the only way someone could even begin to make that case would be if He was known to drink wine. You could not even falsely accuse someone of being a drunkard if they only drank grape juice.

In other words, Scripture gives strong testament to the fact that merely drinking alcohol is not a sin, but getting drunk on alcohol is.

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute. Used with permission)

I’m a Born-Again Christian and I was wondering why the Catholic Church doesn’t do the altar call to have people accept the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Savior since it says that you must make this declaration to be Born Again?

The Catholic Church does, in a sense, make an altar call at every Mass. When people approach the altar to receive Communion, they are indeed accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, as they accept His body and blood into their bodies. Jesus says in John 6, verse 51 and following, that unless you eat His flesh and drink His blood, you have no life in you. If you eat His flesh and drink His blood, you will have eternal life He says, and He will raise you up at the last day.

He repeats Himself on this matter in John 6 like He does nowhere else in Scripture. Catholics take Jesus' words literally - we believe what He says. That is why we believe we receive His actual body and blood during Communion (or the Lord's Supper as you might call it). So when a Catholic approaches the altar to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, they are saying with their bodies, “I believe.” And just minutes before they approach the altar, they have, with the recitation of the Nicene Creed, declared with their lips that they believe. They believe Jesus is the Lord and Savior of mankind and they believe He is present - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity - in the Eucharist that they receive.

My question to you, however, is where does it say that someone must make a “declaration” in which they "accept the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Savior" in order to be born again? Nowhere does the Bible say such a thing. In fact, the Bible says that one is born again by being baptized. John 3:3-5 says that unless one is born of water and the Spirit (baptism) one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

So it is through water and the Spirit that one is born again. All Catholics, by virtue of their baptism, are Born Again Christians. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that one should not make a declaration that Jesus is their Lord and Savior - we need to constantly proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ - but the Bible does not say that one is "born again" by making such a verbal declaration of acceptance of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. And, I assume you want to go by what the Bible says, right?

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute. Used with permission)

How do I answer my father-in-law (a Methodist) when he says he read the Catechism and it says that only those belonging to "The Church" will achieve salvation.

First, ask your father-in-law if he agrees with the statement that one must be a member of the Body of Christ in order to be saved. As a Methodist, he should say that he agrees. Then point out to him that the Bible tells us that “The Church” is the Body of Christ (e.g. Col 1:24). So, when we say that one must be a member of “The Church” in order to be saved, what we are really saying is that one must be a member of the Body of Christ in order to be saved.

So, I think there should be agreement between the two of you on that once “The Church” is identified as the “Body of Christ.” The real question is: Is the Catholic definition of “The Church,” as being the Catholic Church, the correct definition of what the Church is? Or, is the Methodist definition of “The Church,” which is generally along the lines of: All those who have accepted Jesus into their hearts as their personal Lord and Savior regardless of what denomination they belong to, the correct definition? (For an in-depth treatment of this topic, go to: www.biblechristiansociety.com and order the free talk - CD or mp3 download - entitled, “One Church.”)

Regarding what the Catechism teaches about “no salvation outside of the Church,” we need to look at a few paragraphs:

#846: "Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”

#847: “...Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

#848 says: “Although in ways known to Himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please Him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."

What do these paragraphs tell us? 1) If you knowingly reject the Church and its teachings as the “ordinary” means of salvation, you cannot be saved. 2) Ignorance of Christ and His Church does not automatically incur damnation, nor does it automatically result in salvation, either. In other words, someone who is not formally a Catholic “may” be saved, if they have lived an extraordinary life, through some “extraordinary” means by which God joins them to the Body of Christ, the Church.

However, as #848 states, we (Catholics) have the “obligation” to evangelize all men. Why? Since Catholicism contains the fullness of revealed truth, it is logical to say that any person’s best chance of getting to Heaven - of obtaining that holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14) - is to be 100% Catholic and thereby have access to all the grace that God provides through the Sacraments, particularly through the Eucharist and Confession, as well as all the other treasures of the Church.

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute. Used with permission)

I’m reading a book that refers to the Catholic Church as being the “harlot of Babylon” as found in Revelation chapters 17 and 18. How would you respond to that?

I would respond by showing that Jerusalem actually fits the description of the harlot of Babylon, while the Catholic Church does not. Rev 17:1 refers to the “great harlot." How is the nation of Israel, with Jerusalem as her capital often referred to in the Old Testament? As a harlot. Why? Because the relationship between God and Israel was often described in marital terms. Therefore, when Israel would worship false gods, she was described as a harlot. Hosea 9:1, "Rejoice not, O Israel...for you have played the harlot, forsaking your God. You have loved a harlot's hire upon all threshing floors." So we see that Israel is often referred to as a harlot in the Old Testament.

Rev 17:9-10 refer to the seven heads (verse 3) of this beast the harlot is riding on as being “seven hills.” This is why a lot of anti-Catholic folks identify the harlot as the Roman Catholic Church, because Rome is a city on seven hills. However, we see that the seven hills pertain to the beast on which the woman is seated, not the woman herself. I believe, as do most scholars I've read - Catholic and Protestant - that the beast is indeed symbolic of Rome and the Roman Empire. But, if Rome is the beast, then that "proves" the woman sitting on the beast is the Catholic Church, right? Not so fast.

Rev 17:18 says this: “And the woman that you saw is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth." Some argue that the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth is Rome. But, if verse 9, which refers to the beast the woman is seated upon, is referring to the city of Rome; and verse 18, which refers to the harlot, is also referring to the city of Rome, then the beast and the harlot are one and the same. Both are the city of Rome.

But, these are clearly two separate entities, so if one is Rome, then the other has to be another city - Jerusalem makes sense.
Some may say, "Well, of course the beast is Rome - the city on seven hills - but, the harlot is the city within the city, Vatican City, where the Catholic Church is headquartered." The problem is, though, there was no such thing as Vatican City until the early 20th century. When John wrote Revelation, he spoke of the harlot in the present tense: "...IS the great city which HAS dominion over the kings of the earth.” He could not have been referring to Vatican City.

Rev 17:16, "...the beast will hate the harlot; they will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh, and burn her up with fire." Does that mean that Rome will burn Vatican City? (There goes a bunch of tourist revenue!) If the beast is Rome (or the Roman Empire), and the harlot is Jerusalem, then we can see here a clear reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, by Rome, which sacked and burned Jerusalem in 70 A.D. - leaving her naked and burned up with fire - just as the Bible describes the harlot of Babylon.

Finally, the harlot of Babylon is referred to as the "great city," in Rev 17:18 and in a few verses in chapter 18. Yet, Rev 11:9 says, "...and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the GREAT CITY which is allegorically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified." The "great city" is where their Lord was crucified. Where was Jesus crucified? Jerusalem.

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute. Used with permission)

Steve Ray: Catholic and Protestant


Differences Between Catholic and Protestant Approaches to the Bible

by Steve Ray on March 10, 2013

 “Bible Christians”  (a misnomer, since Catholics are the real and original Bible Christians), based on their recently devised “Reformation” principle of sola Scriptura, study the Bible with the following premises:


 1. There is no binding authority but the Bible alone;

 2. There is no official binding interpretation or interpreter; each person ultimately is their own pope;

 3. The Bible is perspicuous (i.e., easy to understand) and it can be interpreted and understood by anyone.

 4. An individual can/should read the Bible and interpret the Bible for themselves.


 Catholics have a different set of premises that direct their study of the Bible.


 1. The authority of the Apostles and the Church preceded the Bible and the Sacred Tradition of the Church is an equally infallible authority (2 Thes 2:15; CCC 80 83). The Bible is part of the Apostolic Tradition.

 2. The authoritative interpretation of the Bible is the prerogative of the Catholic Church (1 Tim 3:15; Mt 18:17; CCC 85?88).

 3. The Bible is not always easy to understand (2 Pet 3:15?16) and needs to understood within its historical and contextual framework and interpreted within the community to which it belongs.

 4. Individuals can/should read the Bible and interpret the Bible for themselves—but within the framework of the Church’s authoritative teaching and not based on their own “private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20?21).


(Source: Steve Ray: http://www.catholic-convert.com/2013/03/10/differences-between-catholic-and-protestant-approaches-to-the-bible/comment-page-1/#comment-316636. Used with permission)


I have an Evangelical friend at work who claims that the Catholic belief in Purgatory is not scriptural. What should I say to him?

2 Sam 12:13-18, “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.’ And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became sick…On the seventh day the child died.” Catholic Scriptural Principle #1 – there is punishment for sin even after one has received forgiveness.

Rev 21:27, “But nothing unclean shall enter it…” The New Jerusalem – Heaven. Catholic Scriptural Principle #2 – nothing unclean, nothing with the stain of sin, will enter Heaven.

Mt 5:48, “You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That’s because of Principle #2 – nothing unclean will get into Heaven.

Heb 12:22-23, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living god, the heavenly Jerusalem...and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…” The spirits of just men, made perfect. Catholic Scriptural Principle #3 – there is a way, a process, through which the spirits of the “just” are “made perfect.”

1 Cor 3:13-15, “…each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day [judgment day] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” Where is this place that a man, after he dies, suffers loss, as through fire, but is still saved. Hell? No, once you’re in Hell, you don’t get out. Heaven? No, you don’t suffer loss in Heaven.

Mt 12:32, “And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Implies forgiveness in the age to come. Where can you go to be forgiven in the age to come? Heaven? You don’t need forgiveness. Hell? There is no forgiveness. Catholic Scriptural Principle #4 – there is a place, or state of being, other than Heaven or Hell.

Now, let’s summarize these four scriptural principles: There is punishment for sin even after one has received forgiveness. We have to be perfect as the Father is perfect, because nothing unclean will enter Heaven. There is some way, or process, by which the spirits of the just are made perfect. There is a place besides Heaven or Hell where you can suffer loss, yet be saved, but only as through fire; and where you can be forgiven of sins from a previous age. It all adds up to one inevitable conclusion - the Catholic teaching on Purgatory is indeed scriptural.

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute. Used with permission)


Finishing up chapter 2 of my book: Blue Collar Apologetics.  Chapter 3, on Sola Scriptura, will start with the next newsletter.
Blue Collar Apologetics - chapter 2 (cont'd)

Essential vs. Non-Essential
Earlier in this chapter - in the section entitled: “Jesus Founded a Church That Teaches Error?” - I mentioned how I have oftentimes heard people who belong to various Protestant denominations essentially admit that their church teaches error.  Oh, they don’t say it directly, but what they do say is something along these lines: “I don’t necessarily believe my church gets everything right, but I know they get the essentials right.”

That’s just another way of saying, “My church teaches error, but it only teaches error in matters that are non-essential.”  In other words, what these folks have done is found an excuse - a justification - that allows them to be comfortable in a church that they know is not infallible, and is not authoritative, and which they recognize could well be, and probably is, wrong in one or more of its doctrines and teachings.  

You see, they divide the body of Christian doctrine into essential doctrines and non-essential doctrines.  The essential doctrines are those that have to do directly with how one is saved.  The non-essential doctrines are those that do not bear directly on one’s salvation, according to this way of looking at things.  

There are, however, a few problems with this division of doctrine into essential and non-essential.  The first question I ask someone who makes this kind of doctrinal distinction is this: Where in the Bible does it say anything about essential vs. non-essential doctrines?  I have yet to get an answer.  Well, does the Bible anywhere say anything that might give us a clue as to whether or not there are essential vs. non-essential doctrines?  I think it does.  In Matthew 5:18, Jesus says, “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.”  And, from verse 19, “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Here we see Jesus concerned with every iota, every dot of the law; and He says that no one should relax even the least of the commandments.  That seems to cast a bit of doubt on this whole essential and non-essential thing.

That's just one verse, but it gives you an idea of how Jesus would feel about the question of there being "non-essential" doctrines.  That verse, along with the others mentioned below, suggest that the answer to the question of where in the Bible does it say anything about essential vs. non-essential is...it doesn’t.  So why do you, Mr. Bible Alone-Believing Christian, believe that there are such things as essential and non-essential doctrines when the Bible nowhere makes any such distinction?  If its not in the Bible, then why do you believe it?

The second question I ask is: Who is it exactly that gets to decide what is, and is not, an essential vs. a non-essential doctrine?  Again, there is nothing in the Bible that talks about essential and non-essential doctrines.  There is no table anywhere in the Bible that lists out the essential doctrines on one side of the page and the non-essential doctrines on the other side of the page.  So, who is it exactly that is deciding what qualifies as essential and what doesn’t?  

This is a very important question, because what if a doctrine is incorrectly classified?  For example, is Infant Baptism an essential doctrine or a non-essential doctrine?  Most Protestants I have come across would classify it as non-essential, because most Protestants I have encountered - whether they be Baptists, Evangelical, non-denominational, or otherwise - believe Baptism is merely a symbolic gesture.  They do not believe one is born again, or regenerated, through Baptism.  Most of them do not believe that Baptism is essential for salvation. Most of them do not, therefore, baptize their babies.  No need to.  

But, there are Protestant faith traditions that believe, as do Catholics, that one is indeed born again through Baptism and that Baptism is necessary for salvation.  Which results in them baptizing their babies so that those babies will be cleansed of Original Sin and be born again into Christ.  

So, is Infant Baptism an essential or a non-essential doctrine?  Well, if the “Baptism is symbolic” folks are right, I guess it would be non-essential.  But, if the “Baptism is necessary for salvation” folks are right, then it is indeed essential.  You wouldn't want your baby to die without being baptized if Baptism is necessary for one to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-5), would you?  Essential or non-essential...which is right?  How do you know?  

Another example: the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper as many Protestants refer to it.  Is that an essential or a non-essential doctrine?  Again, if those who believe the Lord’s Supper is merely a symbolic re-enactment of the Last Supper are right, then I suppose it would be a non-essential doctrine, wouldn’t it?  But, what if the Lutherans and the Anglicans are right, along with the Catholics, and the Eucharist actually is the Body and Blood of Christ?  And that John 6:53 means it when it says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you?”  That sounds pretty essential, doesn’t it?  So, who gets to decide what is and is not essential in the realm of doctrine?  

Another question I ask in this regard has to do with Matthew 4:4.  After Jesus is baptized, He goes into the desert for 40 days.  There He is tempted by Satan.  In one of His responses to Satan’s temptations, Christ says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  Man shall live by every one of God’s words.  Now, Protestants believe, as do Catholics, that every word of Scripture is one of God’s words.  And, it is from Scripture, and Scripture alone, that Protestant doctrines come, according to Protestants.  So, my question is this: Given what Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, which of God’s words are essential, and which are non-essential?  Which part of the Bible is essential and which part is non-essential? Can we really divide God’s revelation into essential and non-essential!  Can we really divide the Bible into essential and non-essential?  I keep wondering who can be so bold as to set themselves up as a judge over the Bible and daring to determine which words of God are essential and which are non-essential?  Bold.  Very bold.  

I’m sorry, but all of this essential doctrine vs. non-essential doctrine nonsense is simply a way for folks to get around the fact that they are in a church or a denomination that has a body of beliefs that contain fallible, non-authoritative, man-made teachings, that are contrary to the Word of God.  They know that their church is not infallible, and that no one in their church is infallible, so they implicitly recognize, at some level of their psyches, that their church, undoubtedly, is teaching error in some way, shape, or form.  Instead of admitting it, though, and going out to look for the church founded by Jesus Christ that does not and cannot teach error in matters of faith and morals ("Know the truth and the truth shall set you free"), they try instead to minimize the impact of this reality by essentially saying, “Well, yeah, I guess my church doesn’t get everything right, but it only gets it wrong in those areas that don’t really matter anyway...you know...the non-essential doctrines.”  

But, if you can’t trust the church, whatever church, to teach you correctly in small unimportant doctrines, then for crying out loud, how can you trust that church to teach you correctly in large important doctrines?  If the Holy Spirit is not guiding a particular church in small, non-essential doctrinal matters, then why would one think the Holy Spirit is guiding that church in large, essential doctrinal matters?  

Look at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, verses 14-30.  In this parable we see the master entrusting his servants with differing amounts of talents before going away on a journey.  When the master returns, two of his servants have done very well with the little they were entrusted with.  And what does their master say to them?  “Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.”  

But, what happens to the servant who was entrusted with the smallest of these little matters?  Well, he blew it.  He did nothing with what he had been entrusted with.  So, since his master couldn’t trust him with a little thing, it only makes sense that his master could trust him with much larger things, right?  I don’t think so.  The servant who could not be trusted with a little, was not trusted with more, but instead had the little he was given taken away from him and he was cast out into the outer darkness.   

So, according to all those Protestants who divide doctrine up into essential vs. non-essential, even though their church may not be able to be trusted in its non-essential doctrinal teachings, you can rest assured that church can be trusted when it comes to its essential doctrinal teachings.  Unfortunately for them, the third servant in the Parable of the Talents would beg to differ.

(Source: John Martignoni, www.biblechristiansociety.com)

Dear Pope Francis,

I read these days that you that you spoke against “religious proselytism” which in your view means talking with someone to persuade him. Instead we should respect other’s beliefs and inspire them through witness so we can grow together in communicating.

As a fellow Catholic who loves you like a father I want to respond you publicly.

You might mean well when you are saying this, but this goes so much against everything Christianity stands for I need to reply in love.

I am a cradle Catholic, but I have taken a long way till I came back to the Catholic Church. Among others I spend years with Israelis and in evangelical churches, so I am somewhat familiar with non-Catholic belief systems.

Wikipedia says “proselytism […] is the act of attempting to convert people to another religion or opinion”. How can this be wrong for a Christian?

Matthew 28:16-20New International Version (NIV)

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

You seem to have a great love for Evangelicals. So do I. I would even call myself an Evangelical Catholic. Evangelicals, however, pay great importance to evangelizing (or what you might call “proselytizing”). That’s something different, you might object. No, it’s not – not with regard to the Great Commission. We could discuss about the means (and here our personal witness through our words and deeds is very important), but not about the need thereof.

Sadly though most Catholics seem to have given up on the Great Commission or do not even know what that is. The common view is “live and let live” or “it does not matter what somebody believes in, they will all go to heaven”.

No, they won’t. I am not saying that all of those who have never heard of Jesus will go to hell, but from that speaking against attempts to convert people is a whole lot different.

Look to Jesus and His apostles: They gave their lives to convert other people who previously adhered to pagan beliefs – or to Judaism. That is exactly what “proselytizing” is all about. Saint Paul was even chosen for this reason – the disciple of the most important Jewish rabbi in history that became a follower of Jesus to reach out especially to the non-Jews.

I am afraid that what you said will confirm people in the erroneous belief that it does not matter what people believe in and that evangelizing (or however we might call it) is something we don’t do anymore.

Jesus did not talk about the small and the wide gate for no reason. Neither was his warning that nobody will come to the Father unless through Him just something one needs to see in a different light today.

It is not up to us to decide who will go to the Father and who not. However, it IS up to us to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

Dear Pope Francis, I respect you and I love you – but there is someone I respect and love even more: Jesus. Therefore I call you to clarify your position so people will not be lead astray.

Some might laugh and say who is this guy that he dares to tell the Holy Father what to do?

I am nobody – and I am everybody. Jesus died for me as He died for each one of us. In His eyes we are all at one level – God’s children. As a brother in Christ – with the full responsibility and authority thereof – I call you to follow Jesus’s Great Commandment and teach others how to do that.

In brotherly love,

Robert Gollwitzer

July 30th, 2014

(Sources: http://www.ucatholic.com/blog/10-secrets-for-happiness/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proselytism)

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