Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The 'Catholic gospel'

I recently read a post on the Catholic blog Historical Christian, owned by Aimee Cooper, a convert to Roman Catholicism. She has developed and is teaching a course on 'Understanding the Catholic Gospel' and on her blog she has posted about her class being made available as a distance learning course.
In her post, she makes a statement comparing the 'protestant gospel' as she understands it, to the 'Catholic gospel' which she says is the 'authentic' gospel.
I was concerned because her description of the 'protestant gospel' was inaccurate and made protestant teaching seem very shallow and powerless. Here is one of her statements:
In part, it is the difference between imputed and infused grace, between sanctifying and fully sacramental grace, between simply believing in Jesus to go to heaven, and truly becoming the dwelling place of God, here and now, during this life, through union with Christ in the sacraments.

After reading this, I wrote a comment and posted it on her blog. She read it and deleted it, making this comment about it:
By the way, there was a long polemical comment on here that I just deleted (I was away for a few hours and hadn't seen it). The person is known to me, and knows they're not welcome here. Not the first time I've encountered this individual - and it's always unpleasant. Sorry about that. I'm very happy to discuss Catholicism with people who really want to learn about it - but I don't enjoy arguing with people who's minds are already made up against it.

Here is the comment she deleted, minus my quote of her statement:
I agree with you that the Catholic gospel and the protestant gospel are different, but I don't know where the 'protestant gospel' you are referring to comes from; it doesn't sound like the Biblical gospel, and neither does your description of the Catholic gospel. If in the past you have been taught a false supposed 'protestant gospel' that doesn't mean that the Bible gospel is not true; nor does it mean that the Catholic version IS true.
The Biblical gospel does NOT teach 'simply believing in Jesus to go to heaven' but it does teach believing in Jesus as Savior, trusting in His sacrifice alone for salvation, then being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, sanctified by Him, and living by faith in Him, abiding in His Word and in prayer, fellowshipping with the saints, and so on.
You referred to 'the difference between imputed and infused grace.' The bible doesn't refer to imputed (or infused) grace, but it does refer to imputed righteousness, which is
what happens when we are justified (made right with God) by faith in Christ. See Romans 4:
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.

5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
7 “ Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
You infer that 'protestant' christians don't teach that believers 'truly become the dwelling place of God here and now, during this life.' Well, becoming the dwelling place of God is the whole message of the gospel as taught in the Scriptures, without any help needed from 'church fathers' or magisterium, or church tradition. If some protestants have failed to teach this, it doesn't mean this isn't the gospel of the Apostles (who were not Roman Catholic) and the Reformers (who were not perfect, but did understand the scriptures very well). You, in proclaiming the need for this course, have admitted that the RCC has largely failed to teach her own people the 'Catholic gospel.' I submit that this is because she doesn't have the gospel at all.
The fact that people are saying 'Catholicism is too big' to share easily, is because it is full of cumbersome manmade traditions and doctrines that obscure the true simple gospel that comes from God's word.

Well, looking back at my comment, it IS polemical, as Aimee said, but not the less true. She says I know I'm not welcome, but I have never commented on her blog before (We emailed back and forth a few times several months ago as we discussed some questions and comments I had about the Roman Catholic church; she didn't want to continue the discussion, because she felt I was not 'genuinely' interested in the RCC. I was, but not in converting). I went back and tried to comment again, twice, but it seems my comments are blocked. The last comment I believe was the best, and was not 'polemical' but just straightforwardly explaining, using scripture, what the true gospel was as opposed to her description. Unfortunately I did not save it, but it contained some of what I already quoted, plus some other good scriptures from Romans. I'll try to recreate it here:
Aimee, I hope you will allow this comment because I am concerned that your description of the 'protestant gospel' is inaccurate and should be corrrected. I will try not to be 'polemical' this time:)
In your statement you referred to 'the difference between imputed and infused grace.'
The bible does not mention imputed grace, but it does refer to imputed RIGHTEOUSNESS, which is what occurs when a believer is justified by faith in Christ's sacrifice on the cross. See Romans 4:
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.

5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
7 “ Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
Secondly, the bible teaches that a believer goes through a process of sanctification which begins when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in him/her upon coming to faith in Christ. The Spirit draws us into a relationship with Christ and teaches us through God's word. We are freed from sin and made holy as we continue in this relationship. This is in contrast to the Roman Catholic teaching of salvation and indwelling through the sacrament of the eucharist. See Romans 6:
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Finally, you infer that protestants don't believe and teach that believers become the true dwelling place of God here and now; but this is the central teaching of the protestant (biblical) gospel. See Romans 8:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Thank you,

That's as close as I could get to the original comment.
For more information on why the Catholic gospel is not the true gospel, see my post on 'Why I will never go home to Roman Catholicism.'


Moonshadow said...

It seems Elena kicked us off. And I wish you would call me "Teresa" ... "Moonshadow" has become one of those handles people call me only when they're ticked at me. :-) Conjures up sorry feelings.

Unlike you and Elena, my husband hasn't been teaching the Bible for any number of years. I'm hope that doesn't disqualify me from a discussion. :-)

I read enough of the Fathers quotes you gave to remind myself how much diversity there has always been in Christ's church. Things aren't any different then than now. Sometimes we can't even agree which essentials are ... essential.

You've attended many churches and I just wonder, this is very personal so please don't answer unless you want to, but reflect and ask yourself, whether in joining churches you have allowed a pastor to persuade you to be baptized in water?

That is, whether you have received water baptism more than once in your life, in conflict with Eph. 4:5 which says that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; (NKJV).

Christ's peace be with you.

Jennie said...

Hi Teresa,
welcome to my blog; I'm glad that you stopped by.
Yes, we got kicked off by Elena, but for my part I don't blame her, since the debate would never end if she didn't end it; I enjoy debating.
Haha! I probably shouldn't have made that comment about my husband teaching for 10 years, but I just wanted Elena to know I had understanding about the subject. I don't think of it as a contest, though; I just wanted her to see that the Catholic perspective isn't the only one that can be supported by the Church fathers.

I'm not sure if that verse in Ephesians is talking about how many times a person should be baptized; I'll have to see what my husband thinks; Of course, there is no reason a believer should be baptized more than once if they were saved when they were baptized. I don't agree with a church making someone be baptized again to join if they have done so in another church as a true believer. I have actually been baptized 4 times, but the first two were as an infant by Catholic priests; I was premature and they baptized me and my twin sister in case we died; then they baptized us again in church later. I was baptized at age 9 in a Baptist church after asking Jesus into my heart, but at 35 I questioned whether I really understood my childhood decision and took the baptism seriously, so I was baptized in the Baptist church we were attending, knowing that I was trusting in Christ for my salvation. I believe the bible teaches one baptism for a believer who is able to understand the decision he/she is making. So, I don't believe in infant baptism being effective for salvation. I should add that no one convinced me to be baptized again, I was convicted in my heart during a church service that the Lord wanted me to do this as a sign of obedience, since as a child I remembered being silly and thoughtless before the ceremony.

Moonshadow said...

I appreciate your answer, Jennie. And I'm glad you survived infancy ... it sounds very scary to me, as a mother of young children now.

I was reading more of my Precepts coursework this week. I don't know whether you are familiar with that material, resources published by Bible teacher, Kay Arthur. I hope you approve of her teaching. If you don't, I would like to know in what respect. Thank you.

I read 2 Kings 25 which, you know, is the final chapter in that history book. And in reading how the Babylonians dismantled the Jerusalem Temple, taking away anything of value, I became very sad. I thought this was a terrible disgrace for God's people.

I also read the parallel account in 2 Chr. 36 which makes reference to the incident we discussed on Elena's blog, Jeremiah's prophetic word to King Zedekiah. I love how Scripture dovetails in so many places, especially between the history books and the prophets.

However, I noticed that the 2 Kings account is starker than 2 Chronicles, perhaps in not having the promise of Cyrus to offer any hope.

So I wondered whether I'm reading 2 Kings incorrectly.

Rather, should I see the stripping of the Jerusalem Temple as a prefigurement of Christ who will fulfill and render obsolete all temple ritual? How do you understand God's purpose in allowing the Babylonians to disenfranchise His people from their religion?

PS: on Eph. 4:5 - I would be interested in what your husband says, but please don't let him think that I'm trying to disturb your conscience or your peace ... I doubt I could anyway ... but I think "one" means "one." It seems so straightforward to me.

Jennie said...

Again, like your question on Elena's blog, I need to go back and read those accounts again before answering fully. But I will say that God's judgment can be harsh but is also merciful, in that it will hopefully bring us back in fellowship with Him. So one account may be emphasizing the harshness (to bring about a healthy fear of God) and the other may be giving hope of mercy and renewed fellowship.
I don't think my husband will mind your question. He gets lots of them on his website, exchangedlife.com.

Jennie said...

after reading both passages, I see in 2 Chronicles 36 that Zedekiah, the rulers, and the people had turned from the LORD and gone after other gods, desecrating the Temple and scorning God's prophets. God had told them beforehand what would happen if they did this. See Deuteronomy 28. This went on for many years, and the LORD was patient. The people forgot His laws and didn't keep the sabbath, including the land sabbaths in which they were to let the land rest every 7th year, harvesting no crops. The LORD therefore said they would be in captivity for 70 years in Babylon, 'until the land enjoyed her sabbaths.' Also see Ezekiel 8 for descriptions of the abominations the people committed against God and His temple, which angered Him so. They were no longer practicing their 'religion' or honoring God in their hearts ,so He removed them as He warned them He would, so eventually their hearts would turn back to Him in repentance.

PS: I used to listen to Kay Arthur on the radio years ago, buy now my older girls always want music on when we drive, so I hardly ever get to listen to my favorites anymore. I used to enjoy her lessons alot.
Well, God bless you!

Moonshadow said...

I understand. Since the Jews weren't practicing their faith as they were commanded, God took away what little they had left. Like the parable of the talents, in a way. (this is off the top of my head, I hope I don't offend).

Yes, the Precept materials took me to Lev. 25.

To bring them to repentance. Got it. Very good. Thank you so much. That helps me a great deal.

Right now I am reading through the sermons on Roman Catholicism by Dr. Rayburn from Tacoma that you linked to. I might have a question or two after I finishing reading those.


Jennie said...

OK; I want to go back and read Dr. Rayburn's messages again anyway, since they have so much info, it's hard to take it all in without reading several times.
Yes, I think your comparison to the parable of the talents is accurate; it's the same principle.
I'm glad to share what I think, but be sure to read all the passages carefully yourself and pray for wisdom and discernment, so you know yourself what the Lord is teaching. He is faithful if you seek Him; and if you are seeking Him in His word, He must be drawing you to Himself, so keep it up!

Moonshadow said...

Yes, I've done my homework in advance, before asking for your impression. But I learned on Elena's blog how easily I miss things in the text ... that's why I'm doing Precepts, to improve my observation of the text and be more careful to read out, rather than read into.

Jennie said...

You have alot of good insights; I've enjoyed our conversation:)
Well, I'd better get some sleep; I always stay up too late on the blogs!
Take care,