Are Catholics Saved and Are They Christians?

by Jack Wellman on June 9, 2011 · Print Print · Email Email

Are Catholics Christians?  Are Catholics saved?  Catholics go to confession before a priest; is this wrong?  Can Catholics ever be sure that the sacraments can save them?  How can Christians know if Catholics are saved?  Can a Catholic ever be sure of their salvation?

Roman Catholicism:  What is it?

The word Catholic literally means universal.  It does not mean a specific denomination per say.  It refers to a generally held and universal belief more than it does refer to a denomination.  The Catholic Church was the dominant force when it was able to convert the old Roman Empire, from the inside out.  During the many early years of Christianity, the church at Rome defended the veracity of the Bible, protected the belief of the Trinity, upheld the truthfulness of Jesus’ birth from the Virgin Mary, and built these beliefs in what is commonly called the Creed.  The Creed was a multifaceted document that stated the untenable beliefs of the Bible, of the holiness of God, and the prevention of heresies that came from many different sects.

Many of the early church patriarchs stated that these foundational beliefs were “catholic”; that is they were held universally in the church.  If any of these beliefs were not held by a church, then that particular faith or church was said to be heretical.  In other words, in a religious denomination or church did not believe that Jesus was both God and man, that the Bible is the perfect and infallible Word of God, and that God was three personages in One (the Trinity), then that church or denomination was a false church teaching a false gospel.

Catholic Church Doctrines

The Pope is said to be infallible.  Catholics confess their sins to the priest.  This church believes that is it the one and only true faith.  They understand that baptism saves, even in infancy.  They think that the sacraments are essential to salvation and that the Eucharist keeps them from sin.  And they believe that Mary is the co-redeemer and that they need to make intercessory prayer to her to reach God.[1]    This seems to tie works to their salvation.  That is, works alone are not enough to save.  Even so, the doctrines of the church may not be perfect, but God can still save those with imperfect understanding since Jesus alone saves.  What church has perfect understanding of all scripture?  What church is without error?  What believer knows all biblical doctrine without fault?  None do.

Are Catholics Saved?

I have heard other Christian’s state that since Catholics depend upon works they are not saved.  Other believers say that since they believe in works they are not truly Christians.  In fact, God alone knows for certain if they are saved or not.  I have known Catholics that live out their faith and profess a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  I have also known Catholics that show utterly no belief in God by their behavior or language.  I am not in a position to say whether a person is saved or not saved.  God is the only One Who knows their heart.  I will not venture to even guess because this is none of my business.

I had a co-worker who was a devout Catholic.  Last year she committed suicide and her church family at the service stated that she was going to hell…some thought she would be in purgatory for thousands of years.  Ironically, I asked this lady if she believed in Jesus Christ, if He was born of a virgin, if she believed that He died for her sins, if He died and was resurrected.  She believed all of these things, so in my humble opinion, I believe that I will see her someday in heaven.  The question of whether a believer can commit suicide and still be saved will be in a future article but from my understanding of the Bible, I believe that someone who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior is securely saved.

Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” John 6:37 and 10:28-29 states, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” and “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

The Final Judge

No human alive can look into the heart of another.  Only God alone knows the heart and He alone knows for certainty whether they have saving faith.  I am a finite being.  I am in no position to know if a particular Catholic is saved or not.  That is God’s prerogative alone.  Yes, some Catholics may not be actually saved, but I can also say that there are some who profess to be Christians who may also not be saved.  We are told to work out our own salvation, to make our profession sure, and to depend upon Jesus Christ and His atoning work at Calvary to save us.  We are saved by faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone.  And if a Catholic believes that Jesus Christ died for their sins, that He rose again, that He was both God and man, and that He alone can save, who am I to question anyone’s profession of faith.  Here by the grace of God am I.

Was this Article Helpful?

If this article was helpful to you, please consider linking this article to your own blog or sharing this through the social buttons to the left. You might also find some of these other good Christian Answer articles helpful:

Does God Still Work Miracles Today?

What is Speaking in Tongues?

Does The Bible say What the Devil Looks Like?

Sources

The Holy Bible, New International Version

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

1.   Understanding Roman Catholicism, ©1995 by Rick Jones. Chick Publications

Ontario, CA.  (p 252, 125).



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{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben December 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Adam you didn’t even respond to a thing I said did you? And you are just attacking my person. The bible says not one thing about the papacy and I don’t even agree with a lot of the things most protestants accept. I don’t think being a Christian means we just continue in sin. I believe it means repentance but Catholics add on so many things that seem to have no biblical basis and call them 100% infallible. I mean who can claim that Mary ascended to heaven? Really? Were the people who claimed that even alive when Mary was alive? No they weren’t. The RCC just adds things that fit their beliefs like that historically and call it the tradition of the church when it is just the tradition of man. I am not here to defend myself. I am a sinful man who struggles to not compromise his faith often but seriously this isn’t about me in the slightest. You don’t even know what I believe at all, you just assumed it. I don’t have to assume, I know much of what the RCC teaches and assuming you are a Catholic you hold to what they teach. I don’t know what to say but attacking me isn’t going to prove anything since I didn’t even say I believe all of those things. We could talk about all of that stuff for hours and hours if we wanted to and we would get nowhere. I have plenty of stuff to say about all of that but there is no point to just argue about it all really is there?

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Adam gorski December 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

The catholic church has never declared who is in hell. But the farther she falls into mortal sin (1 John 5 16-17) with out confession to a priest (John 20 21-23) and falls always from the see of Peter, the pope (Matt 16:18). The greater chance
she will go to hell

Ps the word trinity isn’t in the bible either, you got that from The catholic council of Constantinople in 360. Mormons baptize in the name of the father son and holy spirt but they mean three gods

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Rachel December 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Adam, “mortal sins” and “venial sins” are inventions of the Catholic Church for the sale of indulgences. In 1 John 5:16-17, “a sin that leads to death” is the rejection of Jesus Christ as savior and Lord. According the Bible, all sins are equally bad. Even the single tiniest sin is enough to damn a man without God’s saving grace. In John 20:21-23, Jesus told the disciples to forgive sins. He said nothing about confessing to priests, and in fact according to the Bible, all believers are priests. James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins unto one another. It never specifies a priest.

Adam, please think about this. Our Lord said “whoever believes in me shall not perish, but have eternal life.” He did not say “whoever believes in the Catholic church” or anything to that effect. The Bible also tells us that God wants all people to be saved. Why, then, would He place such strict limits on who can possibly be saved by requiring a Catholic church membership and sacraments? You see, the Cathoic church claims that its sacraments are required for salvation. And since the church determines who does or does not receive them, that would, in effect, put the church in control of deciding who is saved or not saved. That doesn’t make sense, does it?

You said “the farther she falls away from…the greater the chance she will go to hell.” That is a false statement. 1 John 5:11-13 tells us that we can know for certain that we have salvation if we have the Son of God. The Bible in no way says that falling away from certain church practices or teachings threatens our salvation, as long as we still have faith in God.

No one here can change your mind, Adam. Only God can do that. I pray that He will lead you to a more pure understanding of His Will.

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Ben December 17, 2012 at 2:48 am

There is no “chance” someone will go to hell. God doesn’t leave it up to chance and I feel like a lot of Catholics have some idea that it is something related to chance, to how good they have been, to how well they followed the rules/ did good works. Do you think God leaves it up to these certain conditions? it is related to how perfect someone acts? God forgives us based off of how well we follow the rules of avoiding sin, confessing to a priest, following the pope, seeking after him, etc?
I think God sees two types of people, he sees wicked sinners who are currently condemned to hell and he sees people living by faith with no condemnation. He doesn’t see any inbetweeners who are on the verge of going to hell. There isn’t some inbetweener out there who Jesus’ blood almost can’t cover because he is just about fallen away from truth. We can sin and do sin daily and it doesn’t take away forgiveness from us. Jesus blood is meant to cover all sin. Im speaking about a believer though. I am not talking about a protestant christian because those are two totally different things. Anyone born into a Christian family if they go to church probably thinks that they are a protestant christian (I was one of them for so long). But a believer is someone who has believed not by the power of man but by the opening of our eyes which only comes from God. It is the lifting of the veil which was before the eyes of the blind pharisees. A believer is someone who believes because they can see finally. God, the Holy Spirit, opens their eyes. They have the Holy Spirit within them physically/spiritually guiding them and working in them. “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” philippians 1:6 . The point is that God does this work in us for his glory. We are saved at one point in our existence. Being saved is being saved of all sin past present and future and being saved for eternity because nothing can pluck those out of the Father’s hand who he has began a good work in. It just isn’t within our willpower and it isn’t within Satan’s power. God just sees us as his children and sees us as his holy people and he guides us by his spirit and as seen in Hebrews 11 or 12 I think it is he disciplines us as a loving father. I mean it is pretty clear God is the one keeping us and these actions of not falling into perpetual unconfessed/not repented of sin and following God’s truth have no bearings on our salvation because God is the one doing the work in us. We cannot take the glory from what his grace does in us. God works are a sign of faith, why? Because God is the one working in us and if someone is doing nothing at all good then it may be a sign God never started a good work in that person. It may also just mean that he start a work and the person is in a time of great sin like when David committed adultery or when Peter started to become backslidden by wanted to separate from the uncircumcised. I supposed we are basically all backslidden in certain areas and God is continually making us upright righteous children before his eyes.
My point is that forgiveness comes from the mercy of God, from the pursuit of the Spirit of God which leads our eyes to be opened which leads us to repentance and then he keeps as his people by his continual grace and through his work in us by the Holy Spirit. Our faith comes from believing in the unseen, from seeing the truth of the gospel. And God forgives that sinner because they have believed because he has opened their eyes.
I think God is pretty darn sure when he has take the veil away from the eyes of sinners. He took the veil away when Jesus was speaking to the disciples and they finally understood what he was saying to them. He knows precisely what he is doing and it is an in or out sort of situation. It isn’t chance. Yeah we cannot know if someone is saved or not. We cannot judge if they had the veil removed from their eyes because people often sin and they often don’t repent right away. But maybe that is the chance you were referring to, the chance that we don’t know when a believer is backslidden but will come back to the light or when they are truly just someone who never repented and believed in the first place.
My personal repentance is an absolute roller coaster ride. I feel like for tons of Americans we have this struggle. I have heard it said by men who have been scarred physically and probably beaten many times from serving the advancement of the gospel in countries like India and Peru that America is the hardest nation to be a Christian in, not because life is physically hard, but because spiritually we are often deprived of the discipline that is learned in suffering and of the closeness to Christ that is formed in suffering. We often don’t value him as much as the poorest Christians because we have so much more in our lives that aren’t Jesus and aren’t of God that we have to push aside and we don’t have people who will hurt us physically here or who want to kill us for professing the name of Jesus. My point is that it is definitely harder to be a Christian here and there are probably more times when believers are backslidden here than over there, I don’t know, maybe we are backslidden in different ways, I can’t make a firm opinion about that but it almost just seems like the common sense of people from what we see happens.
It can be very hard to decide if we are saved or not. I consider it a very hard thing. I only say that in the presence of other Christians because I know that many Christians are sure they will go to heaven, like 100% sure, when they probably won’t. If all professing Protestants were on the narrow path right now I am sure it would be a lot more obvious. And so I don’t want to trick someone into being sure they are saved when I see so many who I wish they were unsure if they were saved. Sometimes when I am sure I am saved it is a trap to me and Satan uses thinking like that (when it is not in a humblemindset) in order to make it more desirable for me to sin and to not do what I should be doing. I use it as a free go to heaven card often where I think that it doesn’t matter what I do now because I am going to be in heaven when I die. And that is Satan’s power working in me, or my own struggle against the flesh. I wan’t someone’s assurance of salvation to come from something else, not from something I say. it should be assurance directly from God. I don’t want to overly emphasize verses like 1 John 5:13-14 to someone who isn’t entirely sure that their eyes are opened to the power of the gospel. I want them to read that verse and believe it themselves, to believe God means that to them personally. I just want to want what God wants for his people! I hope my long response hasn’t been too long. I will not write another one like this on here.
I had a big response typed up for the thing about the word trinity and I don’t want this talk to deviate from salvation, anyways that was the point of the article, any conversing should be more about salvation.

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Adam gorski December 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm

King James Version (KJV). 3:16
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It looks like the 1611 version says should not parish not a guarentte

James 2:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

This should over turn once saved always saved for you

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Adam gorski December 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm

A great question would be who is your authority according to archeology (dideche, polycarp, Ignatous of Antioch, goa st Thomas Christians, Ethiopian orthodox,… All first 15 centuries of Christianity and Jewish tradition I’m right

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Adam gorski December 16, 2012 at 9:04 pm

@ Rachel

That is daily mass Sunday through Friday every week to hear the entire bible spoken.
( everyday is the lords day with Sunday being the sabbath)

The Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist do a copy of the catholic litergy for Sundays only

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Rachel December 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Adam, did you not read what I had written? Even counting daily mass, Sunday through Friday, only 13.5% of the OT and 71.5% of the NT are read. That nowhere near covers the entire Bible.

God bless you on your journey to Him.

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Jack Wellman December 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I would hope that we could end this and just agree to disagree. Your comment “There are currently 38,000 denominations and only one church Jesus founded” is inflamatory my friend. I beg you both to let the discussion end and part for neither is going to convince the other…please for the sake of Christian charity (Rom 12). Thank you both.

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judy ziebell December 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I just finished the book, A Woman Rides The Beast by Dave Hunt about the Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days. Very very interesting. Every Catholic should read it.

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Adam gorski December 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm

The main problem most Protestants have is they constantly say

“I think”. Or “I believe”

Catholics and orthodox say Jesus taught the apostles for since he is God we not I must follow

It’s not up to individuals it’s up to God

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Sonny December 27, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Iam a Catholic and I go to church every Sunday and also walk into the church to pray durning the week after work. I also attend Aposlic Christan Church at times. I read the bible almost everynight and I do pray throughout the day. I think if a person receives Christ in his life and he or she is total given into Christ, And having a relationship with Christ.. Then that person is saved with Christ.. And being baptize as well. Godbless all those who seek Christ….. Amen

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Amber Keller February 14, 2013 at 11:35 am

What will happen when the pope that is resigning dies? My grandma said there is one grave spot left i don’t know what the graves are called she called the graves something but i can’t remember but she said after he dies then it is the end of times!! I really need an answer on this one!! She isn’t catholic but she is a christian!! Please help!! I’m scared of the end times because i’m so young and i want to live a full life!!

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Jack Wellman February 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

Amber, they will simply choose another Pope in this man’s place. There is nothing in the Bible about there being only one grave left. I am only seeing what the Bible teaches. Do you have a church home? If so, talk to your pastor about this. To be sure you are a Christian and will be born again, read Romans 10:9-13 for it is about believing in Jesus Christ, that He came to live a sinless life to die for us so today, put your trust in Him and God the Father will see you as having Jesus’ righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). Trust Christ today and you will receive eternal life. You don’t have to be Catholic to be saved for it is Christ alone Who saved (Acts 4:12).

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Adam gorski February 14, 2013 at 12:04 pm

That’s partial truth non Catholics can go to heaven but the farther you get from the church that Jesus founded it gets less likely and more challenging. But all believers are one so a non catholic that gets to heaven will probably realize thier errors of not following the true church

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Steve March 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Really? The Catholic Church was formed by Jesus and the apostles. In fact, Peter was the first pope. Does there need to be any arguments further than that on who is right or wrong? Does it say in the Bible you can’t drink or dance? No it does not. In fact Jesus tells John the Baptist to calm down at a point. Also, Chick Publications is well known for their anti-Catholic rhetoric so they are obviously a credible source for this question. I could cite my claims but than you all would have to pick up and read the original Bible which hasn’t been changed by any Kings in order to actually see the wording changes.

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Paul Magallanez April 2, 2013 at 7:23 pm

If You believe in Christ, you know of his forgiveness of sins, saved by grace, you know why he died. You will be fine, have faith y’all! Have God in your heart, know what its like to KNOW him. Y’all will be good. God bless.

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Jack Wellman April 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Amen Mr. Magallanez. You are so right sir. Thank you so much. Good to hear from you.

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Paul Magallanez April 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Thank you Mr. Wellman. I truly enjoyed reading this article. God bless!

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Jack Wellman April 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm

And I thank God for you too Mr. Magallanez. May God richly bless you sir.

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Augustine June 6, 2013 at 11:48 am

If you afirm that you are a true christian and you bow before an idols (the image of mary or any saints), pray to God through mary which is contrary to the word of God you are an antichrist. Sometime the truth may hurt but if it is accepted with humility the holy spirit will do his finish and perfert work in such life. Those who follow the pope and do those that are contrary to what is written in the bible are not true believer and may not make it to heaven if they die. Before the throne of God’s judgement, ignorant is not an escuse for sin

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Michael June 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm

My Friend just because the catholics pray differently than you do does not mean they are the antichrist. I suggest you do more research before making an accusation like that. The definition of A Christian is a Jesus Follower. which Catholics are Jesus Followers. Did it occur to you that many Christian Religions broke off Catholicism? Probably not since you blindly made that accusation. I am happy to proclaim that I am a catholic I may not agree 100% with the beliefs but I do think of myself as a Christian. I would highly recommend you actually take time to do more research by maybe talking to a catholic priest. By the way maybe you should stop judging other peoples beliefs based off of your beliefs because other people might do the same thing with your choice of religion. I’m a sinner how about you?

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Kelsey June 21, 2013 at 10:06 am

Hi Jack,

I am not sure i am completly understanding your article here. I would say that I can not be 100% sure that no one with in the Catholic Church is saved, maybe someone is a new believer and does not understand scripture to the extent yet that the ways of the Catholic Church are wrong. However, I would say that many false religions such ( let’s consider Mormonism for example) would make it sound on the outside like they believe in Jesus as their Savior. They admit their sin. They believe the Holy Spirit comes in them, etc. many things that sound like their faith matches the faith of a Christian. However, it’s not until we pull back some of those layers that we come to realize that what they believe is not the same a Christian at all, like that there is more than one God, that Jesus is not one with the Father, that satan and Jesus were brothers, and so much more. I would agree that it seems on the surface that Catholics have much more in common with the Christian when it comes to words used and beliefs on religion, however Jesus + anything does not equal the gospel. So I would say that even if I catholic professes all of what you mentioned, yet still clings to needing to go to confession, to say hail Mary’s and to worship her, to take the sacraments and wash the cup and so on then their hope is not in Christ alone. There hope is in Jesus + something else which distorts it being only faith in Christ. I am not putting Catholics on blast, I believe that many professing Christian so called church’s and dinominations do the same as well and I would say the same to them. There may be those who do not believe in these extra things that still go to these church’s for lack of being taught or yet to understand any better, but for those that truly hold to the Catholic ways and teachings I would say still need to realize that Faith in Chirst alone is the only means by which on can be saved.

I would love to hear your response. Thank you for addressing the topic and openly allowing conversation.

Kelsey

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Jack Wellman June 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Thank you Kelsey for your comment. I think we are in agreement…there are Catholics who call themselves Catholics that are not saved and some that are….as there are some calling them selves Christians who are Protestants that are saved…and others not. Only God knows with certainty. I believe that God alone knows who is and who isn’t but your points about adding works to Christ’s work on the cross is important. Not one of us have perfect understanding and even in the church that I pastor at, I am sure I make mistakes too but I believe as long as we put our trust in Christ that He was sinless and dies for our sins so that we might have eternal life, we can be saved…even though we still do things contrary to being saved by faith alone in Christ alone. Reading the book of Galatians we see that Paul dealt with these Christians who were still trying to add their salvation by works and didn’t quite get it that it is by faith alone that we are saved…yet, God still saved many who are in error.

Thanks…appreciate your visit and great commentary that is quite accurate Kelsey.

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timothy vukomanovic August 23, 2013 at 8:08 am

I notice in this thread those who talk about Catholics seem to refer to the Roman Catholic Church. There are several Catholic Churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches do not believe the Pope is any more than a Bishop and do not believe he is infallible. The Orthodox Churches such as Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox are all Catholic. The main difference between Orthodox and Roman Catholics is the assignment of a Pope and the manuscripts which they use for the Bible. The version of the manuscripts used gives rise to the difference in the role of Marry as certain manuscripts I believe have a feminine word used to describe the savior.

Christians who criticism the sacraments that Catholics undertake should understand that Jesus undertook a sacrament in baptism. Sacraments are as I see them reminders or symbolic rituals that help church members in observing and remembering the spiritual. It is interesting that if you look deep into RC doctrine that they do acknowledge that baptism can be performed by a person who is not a priest or bishop should one who is ordained not be available.

I find it surprising that non catholic Christians would ever proud and arrogant to claim that they know on mass that all Catholics are condemned. To stand in judgement when we have imperfect knowledge is indeed unwise given Christs admonition not to judge incorrectly for with that judgement you judge ye shall be judged.

I do not see the sacraments of the Catholic Churches removing belief in Christ, but enhancing and ingraining it in peoples lives. All the sacraments are symbolic even the confessional.

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Jack Wellman August 23, 2013 at 9:32 am

Thank you Mr. Vukomanovic. I agree, we should not be criticizing Catholics or condemning them. These are fellow heirs according to the faith and the saints of God as much as Protestant churches are. We are all part of the Body of Christ, the church. If you read the article, you can tell, I hope, that I am not going to judge Catholics and don’t believe we should condemn them at all. We may not agree on everything but we agree on the main things. Thank you sir for your comment.

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Roberto Mackey February 16, 2014 at 4:57 am

Dearest Pastor Wellman and all who may stumble or frequent this blog,

God bless! I pray Pastor Wellman that you are well, man! : )

May God bless you, your loved ones, your congregation, all followers of Christ, and those yet to know His love!! I hope that this blog hasn’t been buried in the archives of the internet. This article (and the comment section particularly) could prove to be such a bright light for Christ amidst an ocean of filth that we find online. It is truly apparent that you (and most of the commentors) are full of His love and a genuine desire to co-exist with all denominations of Christianity.

I introduce myself to you as Roberto…however this is not my real name…only an internet persona I’ve developed for the sake of privacy. I am a very devout Catholic and am quite well-versed in the faith (though not as well as I’d like). I am a 3rd degree Knight in the Knights of Columbus, and teach 7th grade catechetics in CCD. God has blessed me so abundantly here in this life, far Howefewan my sinful self deserves. He has given me the great grace of knowing Him and seeking His will in my life. A year and a half ago, he brought into my life a beautiful, God-fearing, imperfect (but perfect for me!) woman. We have recently become engaged and place Christ first, second and third in our lives. She works for a nearby Catholic Diocese and has much education in our faith. (Sorry if this seems like meaningless dabble, I assure you it is relevant). Our relationship (more specifically our mutual praise and worship of Our Lord) has driven me deeper and deeper in the Catholic faith. By His grace, we will marry in August of this year, and embark on a married life given to Him. Sooooo…..to my point.

I was greatly encouraged upon stumbling upon this blog/these comments, that tolerance and acceptance amongst all Christians may be an obtainable goal, if only on a smaller scale. As it is not my prerogative to take offense (and certainly not to give any), I will refrain from delving into many stances with which I am in disagreement. However, I will make exception for a few of the more significant ones in my mind.

First and foremost, I will start by saying that the tremendous amount of anti-Catholic rhetoric present in our society (American and global) does get quite tiring. It seems to me that there are many misconceptions, even blatant flat-out lies being spread about the Catholic faith. One i’ve stumbled across frequently as of late, is the Christianity of Catholicism. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard or seen the question ‘Are Catholics Christian?’. My answer to this, as friendly as I can express it, is that YES the entire Mass is centered on Christ. Specifically, the Catholic Mass focuses ENTIRELY on His sacrifice, resurrection, ascension, the Gospel, His Passion, as well as His call for our faith, love, worship, adoration, and commuion with Him through His bride, the church (in this capacity ‘church’ refers to the collection of Christian believers and not a physical place of worship). If anything, from my own personal experiences (everyone’s may differ), the Catholic church actually focuses on Christ more so than any other denomination of Christianity. Being a recent revert to the Catholic Church, I have had a good deal of exposure to other denominations (specifically while I finished my tour of active duty in the Marines, doing much soul and faith searching). In my estimation, Protestant faiths place a larger emphasis on the filial aspect of the Trinity, while Catholicism focuses more on Christ and His relationship with His church. (Although if you follow along with the Mass, all three persons of the Trinity receive notable emphasis). So, YES….CATHOLICS ARE CHRISTIAN.

Secondly, and this my own reasonable assumption (with a prayerful and discerning spirit), that it is NOT faith alone that assures our salvation. My apologies if I offend or upset anyone as I make this opinion (also that of the Catholic Church). I beg you to not immediately tune out my reasoning, and proceed with an open-mind and discerning spirit.

JAMES 2:18-20, NKJV-
“18But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless.”

I don’t believe, nor does the Catholic church teach that one can ‘work’ their way to Heaven. It is by the grace of God alone that we are called to faith. However, equally important is what we DO with that faith. Have we truly accepted Christ if it doesn’t make a permanent change in us? Have we really accepted Christ if we don’t show it through our compassion and Love for ‘the least of these’. Remember that we are called to love, by He whom IS love, to ‘love others, as I have loved you’. I can think of countless ‘Christians’ of Protestant denominations who are relying solely on their faith that He is whom He says He is, and that He died for our sins. These very same ‘Christians’, in many cases that I’ve seen, are living and dwelling in perpetual sin…quite happily, in fact…with no intent to ‘Go and sin no more’. Not I nor any other mortal man (save Mary, His mother…but that’s for a different discussion) have lived sinless lives. HOWEVER, we are certainly called to turn from our sins and take on love. The Catholic church teaches that there are sins of COMMISSION, as well as sins of OMISSION. Sins of commissions are those we actively partake in, whereas sins of omission are sins against our Lord by blatantly choosing to not take advantage of opportunities to do good that He places before us. I have trouble believing that God totally disregards good that one may do here on this earth. That is not the just and righteous God we’ve read about in scripture. NOTE:**It is IMPERATIVE that one professes his/her faith in Christ (through baptism of one form or another) for one to find salvation. But believing that God won’t punish wicked behavior and look solely upon a person’s faith, in my mind is quite foolish. I imagine many souls have found eternal damnation, having placed all their hope in their ‘faith’, and refusing to live out their Christianity. Again, I know MANY self-proclaimed, baptized ‘Christians’, who are adulterers, drug dealers, alcoholics, and any and all sorts of things. (Not to judge them…for there is only one judge…merely observant).

So…it is my opinion, that faith and works (a life striving for, but never attaining, a sinless life while relying on His grace to continually change us for the better. This includes a tremendous love for our fellow man, as one of the two greatest commandments, and the compassionate works of mercy that go along with it), are BOTH necessary for us to win our salvation, and what we do with God’s great gift of faith. He gave us free-will to determine who truly loves Him. There is no component of free-will in salvation to all granted the GIFT of faith. Many will abuse this gift of grace, and thus suffer his condemnation. FAITH in Christ + a charitable, loving compassion for fellow man (i.e.-WORKS) and love of God above all else (while striving to be sinless through His grace because of this love)=Eternal salvation through Christ. FAITH + WORKS = SALVATION!!

My apologies for the length of this comment…I could go on, but I’m afraid I’ve already been too long winded.

May God bless you all so abundantly, and may we all continually seek and find truth!!

Pastor Wellman…I present to you (and all those interested) a challenge. My challenge to you is to, coinciding with prayerful discernment and an open heart, take 30 days and read through the Catholic Catechism coupled with attending Catholic Mass for a month focusing on everything that happens during the Mass and how EVERYTHING directly coincides with scripture. Follow along in the Missallette as it walks you through the Mass. This time will help you to better relate to Catholicism, see the beauty of the Mass, and more completely see Catholics and Protestants as brothers and sisters in Christ. As you certainly are filled with Christ, in the spirit of understanding and accepting your Christian bretheren as you preach, I pray you’ll accept this challenge!!

God bless!! Christ’s love is abounding for you all!!

Roberto Mackey

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ben May 12, 2014 at 3:20 am

I have to say that it is not out of pride or happiness I would say a Catholic can be seen as different from a Christian. It is of course because of what is taught in each church. I don’t deny that many protestant denominations teach awful things and I wouldn’t consider them Christian either. But many of the things taught in the Catholic Church are not only not found in the bible but they are quite heretical. Such as much of what is taught about Mary. It is not believed solely because of what is said in the bible. What is believed about Mary is a Catholic tradition that was clearly not believed at the time the gospels were written, there is nothing about her being sinless within any of the NT except for what Catholics would claim is written about her when she is called “highly favored.”

She is elevated to a position she should not be and she is dishonored in doing so and so is Jesus. What I say of course is an opinion backed by certain evidence, but I find the evidence that backs the Catholic view of Mary to be quite lacking and to not be of trustworthy sources. And their interpretation of the bible on these matters seems more to be an attempt to support a view they already had rather than trying to figure out what the bible has to say for itself. I don’t think a person can read the bible alone, even if they were somewhat versed in greek, and come to the conclusions the Catholic Church does about Mary because they are not found in the bible. I respect much of what my ex girlfriend (who is Catholic) believes, but I believe she is deeply in error in parts such as these because she accepts the Catholic tradition in belief to be correct. She of course has evidence she believes to support her views but it follows along with Catholic tradition which can be riddled with errors due to the sinfulness of man. I choose to place my faith on the infallible word of God alone because it can be trusted and is sufficient to teach me what I need to learn, and it says otherwise that would the Catholic Church.

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Roberto Mackey May 12, 2014 at 8:00 am

Ben,

Thanks for the response! Perhaps this is an issue that we will never quite see eye to eye.

My response to you:
1. The Bible, (NT, anyways) was written, transcribed, translated, and protected by the Catholic Church. It IS the Word of God. It is THROUGH the Catholic Church that God gave us the Bible. The Bible is entirely truthfulness HOWEVER, it never claims to be the ENTIRE truth. John, actually goes out of his way to state the opposite in Revelation, saying that much more could have been written solely on Christ. What value was there in the New Testament immediately after Christ’s death?? NONE!! It didn’t exist for decades after his resurrection and ascension! The Truth was conveyed through oral tradition! So the Bible simply cannot be the sole means God chooses to give us His truth! The Bible could not have been written if the Catholic Church was not/is not divinely inspired and protected as well! To consider the Bible the end of God’s inspiration and revelation, one would discredit those who wrote it…thus discredit the Bible itself! Impossible! It can’t be done!! I always get a chuckle when Protestants try to discount the Catholic Church, by citing a book that exists that God gave us THROUGH that same Catholic Church!!

2. The original term used in the Greek text of Luke, of Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary is most precisely translated as “Hail, Full of Grace”…not “highly favored one” as commonly found in Protestant Bibles.

3. This leads me to a BIG issue that I have with Protestant bibles….mainly stemming back to Luther. Luther insisted on the 7 “extra” books in the Catholic Bible be removed. He claims they were not divinely inspired. He also tried having the letter of James and Revelation removed! (Conveniently enough, they were directly opposing many of his heretical teachings!!). There are additional books in the Catholic Bible not because we added them, but because the reformers removed them!

3. Again…by reading the Catechism, one can learn the TRUE teachings of the Church. Catholics do not worship Mary. We recognize that she has a level of Honor in Heaven higher than that of any other person outside of the Trinity. We honor her because Jesus honored her (wedding at cana, at the foot of the cross, but most importantly, because He chose her from all of creation…filling her with His grace and setting her apart from the beginning of creation. She too was in need of His salvation. By the grace of God, he preserved her from all sin…and so saved her from falling in the first place…but saved her nonetheless. By dishonoring Our Lady, one dishonors Christ, who honored her and continues to honor her in heaven. All throughout scripture we can point to evidence that there are varying degrees of glory in heaven….she holds the highest of any created being. None of this is blasphemous, or idolatrous. Quite the opposite, actually. By revering and honoring her, we sing praises to God’s great mercy, love and faithfulness. He has allowed humanity to play such an important role in his own plan of our redemption. By His grace and mercy alone. Man could not write such a love story.

4. We look to Mary for Her intercession with Christ on our behalf. We see the great favor God has afforded her, and look to her as the prime disciple. Her persistence, compelled Christ to mercifully bless the newlyweds. Why would her influence with Him now in heaven be any less? Mary’s role does nothing but bring glory to God, by glorifying His great mercy! Christ, just as He said is the Way. He alone atones for our sins. HE is our intercession with the Father. Nowhere are we told there cannot be intercessors between us and Christ. Mary, above all angels, saints, and martyrs…is our most powerful intercessor…by God’s design. If you would ask family, friends, and your congregation for their prayers on your behalf, why on earth would you not ask Mary or any of the saints in heaven…who MUST have God’s favor by virtue of their redemption??

Now I know your response…its pretty much on cue. ‘Where is that in the Bible’? Which is where Protestants don’t have a leg to stand on, so to speak. The argument of Sola Scriptura is self-defeating. Without God’s inspiration, favor, and protection of the Catholic Church, the Bible never comes into existence in the first place. Without God’s Spirit moving through and guiding the Church, Christianity never would have survived Nero and the Roman persecution. Christ never said that evil wouldn’t triumph over the Christian Bible… … …he DID say that about His church. So there MUST be authority given to the church (we are reaffirmed as he gave Peter the keys to the kingdom and authority over His flock). With this authority comes the power to interpret scripture, led by His spirit. The line of apostolic succession was broken when Protestants ‘reformed’ Christ’s church to their own liking, separating themselves from this line of succession. That’s not to say Protestants are not capable of salvation. The prerequisites of salvation are BOTH faith, and love(ie-works (gasp!)). These are both freely given graces of God…not attainable by oneself, due to our sinful natures….only by the grace of God. God does give us free will however, so there is an element of human choice in the matter…yet our hearts are primed to receive Him through His grace.

i digress. Point being: such an authoritative book required an authoritative source to give it it’s authority. The Bible is not the sole source of truth. It is on equal footing with the church that was charged with its creation, interpretation, and survival. In a nutshell, the Catholic Church, the successors of St. Peter and the Apostles, have authority FROM Christ to lead His church. If one disputes Marian teachings, they must also dispute the concept of the Trinity….also not found in Bible….also Catholic revelation.

Please read the Catechism. You will realize you don’t disagree with Catholics as much as you think…and that you’ve been misled about Catholicism.

God bless!

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