Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Exploring Catholicism: Part 1

I have recently began a conversation, via email, with someone who is considering a return to the faith of his youth, after being away from Catholicism since high school. He has allowed me to post our conversation on my blog, with the hope that others may be able to benefit from it as well. Here is our first exchange.

Pax Christi,
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What is the plan of salvation according to the Catholic church? again I get mixed up what I have heard from the Catholic church and from anti-Catholics, Is there assurance of salvation? I have heard that there is not, yet I was at a Catholic funeral recently and they were very strongly pronouncing that the deceiced was with God. If there is what is it based on?
Well, Catholics believe that salvation is a process of sanctification that culminates in eternal life with God after death. We are not ultimately "saved" until we die in union with Christ. This means that there is no "assurance of salvation" or "once-saved-always-saved" understanding in Catholicism. In other words, a person can sin in a way that will destroy the divine life (or the "sanctifying grace") that he once received. I can provide Biblical support for this in another email, if you wish, but for now it looks like you just need to know what it is that Catholics believe.

Catholic funerals can sometimes confuse this issue b/c priests, in an attempt to relieve the sadness of a funeral, will comfort the mourners by telling them that their loved one is now in heaven. This may very well be true....but then again, it may very well not be. If you look at the actual words of the funeral rite, it doesn't canonize the deceased. Instead, it calls for us to pray for them. This is the Catholic response to death and it is a sign of our hope that God will have mercy on the dearly departed. It is also a sign of our faith that the prayers of the faithful on earth can in fact benefit the souls that have gone before us.

John 3:5 talks about being baptized with water and Spirit. Do you have any information, resources, thoughts, further scripture on baptismal regeneration? This is the topic I am looking at closely now in my studies.
I have a ton of links to articles on this topic. If you go to the Catholic Defense Directory and click on the Baptism entry, you should fine all the resources you need. In case that entry is a little too overwhelming (I realize that there's a lot there), here are a few articles I would suggest:I hope that helps. Also, I realize that a lot of the links in the Directory are broken, but I am in the process of fixing them.

[UPDATE: Links are fixed]

Also if you can help me to understand the landscape of the Catholic church right now so I know better the church today. There are quite a few Catholic churches around my house, There is a Latin rite only one right down the street and I have heard of Liberal Priests, Charismatic services, and Conservatives? Is there one Catholic idea and these are branches or are these groups claiming the correct idea from the beginning? or something else?
Well, we have to be careful when we label people as "liberal," "conservative," "charismatic," etc. because people define these terms in different ways. Really, there's only one way to be Catholic and that is the faithful, orthodox way. By that I mean, if you believe and profess what the Catholic Church teaches and if you are obedient to the pope and to the bishops in communion with him, then you are a faithful Catholic. Abuse and heresy can creep in to all of these crowds that label themselves (or are labeled by others) in the various ways you listed. So, ultimately, being "liberal," "conservative," or "charismatic" is not as important as simply being faithful and obedient.

Does that answer your question? I hope so. If you have any further questions, just let me know.

Pax Christi,


  1. Hey, I'm butting in. Please feel free to ignore my comments if you want to have a private (world wide web) conversation.

    Phat Cat: This answers some of my questions.

    I put some verses below on this matter.
    Romans 10:9 says
    "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you WILL be saved."

    Romans 8:1
    "There is therefore now, NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus."

    Ephesians 2:8,9
    "For by grace you have been saved through FAITH. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works lest any man should boast."

    If I were you, I'd read the Gospel of John a bunch of times in a row and take it at face value. Then ask the Lord who created you to grant you faith in His Son who died in your place. The only thing that can save anyone is Faith in Christ. You cannot earn it and once He grants you faith then you are saved, never to unearn what He paid in full.

    How can you unearn what you never earned?

    My views come from Scripture alone. I am an obnoxious evangelical Christian.

  2. Amy........in Part 2 of "Exploring Catholicism" I will be providing the Scriptural support for what I said in Part 1 about salvation. That should respond to your comment here as well.

  3. "Catholics believe that salvation is a process of sanctification that culminates in eternal life with God after death. We are not ultimately "saved" until we die in union with Christ. This means that there is no "assurance of salvation" or "once-saved-always-saved" understanding in Catholicism".

    Pope Benedict XVI (while still a cardinal, in 1964)put it beautifully in a sermon (now published as "What it means to Be a Christian, Ignatius Press 2005, p. 84). He put it like this:

    "No one can say of himself, 'I am completely saved.' In the era of this world, there is no redemption as a past action, already completed; nor does it exist as a complete and final reality; redemption exists only in the mode of hope". I love that!

    Peace, in Christ.


  4. Then if that is true, you deny the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The gospel is so basic, repent and trust Jesus. Anything else is following the law which is strictly warned against in scripture.

    ex catholic

  5. "ex catholic"..........you may benefit from reading this post:


    Pax Christi,


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