Catholicism Questions

As I understand it, Tom~, the teaching of the (Roman Catholic) Church is that you must be a part of the Church to receive salvation – but “the Church” as it’s used here is not 100% a “you’re Catholic or you’re not” dichotomy.

Rather, the teaching of the Catholic Church is that there’s really only one Church, which was founded by Christ and entrusted to the apostles, with Peter at their head, and that that Church has direct organic relation to the organization headed up by John Paul II in Rome today. But from the first there have been heretics and schismatics who split from it, and people born into heretical and schismatic churches who sincerely believed in God according to the teachings of their sect. These sects are not, in the Catholic metaphysic, “churches” in the same sense that the Catholic Church is, though courtesy and respect for others – caritas – call on Catholics to respect their members’ views of them as valid churches.

By God’s grace, all these are accounted as participating in the salvific faith of Christ, insofar as they believe sincerely and as their church’s belief corresponds to the teachings of Catholicism. The image of concentric circles emanating from Christ is often used – Catholics are in the inmost circle (according to this Catholic view), Orthodox in the next one out, Anglicans and Lutherans the one after that, then Methodists and Baptists and such, and so on.

My quote from paragraph 847 was from paragraph 846.

Paragraph 847 includes the explicit statement

You are correct, Poly. I was simply trying to present the Church’s extended position in its own (linked) words, rather than summarizing.

It may be that the Catholic episcopate has made statements to the effect that it is possible for people outside of the (Catholic) Church to make it to heaven, but this doesn’t square with their official doctrinal statements. For one thing, Catholic doctrine teaches that everyone goes to purgatory (where is this in scripture?) first, where they must be purified through the conduction of masses by the “Church” before they can be received into heaven? How could a non-Catholic get in on this?

If the Episcopate (the Pope and the priests) is only holding itself out to be the “best way” to get to heaven, please explain the following quotes from the Vatican Council II section on establishment and apostolic succession:

"Therefore, the Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Chruch, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who refects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ.")(my emphasis)

And who does VC II say these successors are?

**“Just as in the Gospel, the Lord so disposing, St. Peter and the other apostles constitute one apostolic college, so in a similar way the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are joined together…but the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head…the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church…it is evedent, however, that the power of binding and loosing, which was given to Peter, was granted also to the college of apostles, joined with their head” ** (the Pope).

This is, of course, speaking of the episcopate’s claim to sole authority (through the Pope) to remit or retain sins (John 20:23). If I (or anyone else) do not submit myself to this authority–I refuse to “hear them”–by becoming a Catholic, and adhering to Catholic doctrine; e.g., partaking of the eucharist on the required days, going through the confession/absolution process, and after I am dead, the purification process, how pray tell can I possibly get into heaven? If I can get into heaven outside of the Roman Church and its requirements, then what is written in their official doctrinal statements is nothing more than balderdash.

RE “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”- in Matthew 12, Christ warns against this sin as being unremittable in this aion or the aion to come for it is an aionion sin.
A decent paraphrase may be that it can’t be remitted in this life or the life to come for it is a lifelong sin.

Now, what IS “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”?

Christ is provoked to make this warning when His religious enemies accuse Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub. In other words, they are accusing the Son of God of being Satanic. Christ responds that His casting out demons is the sign of God’s Imminent Reign among them, and then warns against BHS. By adamantly denying the Presence of God obviously working in Christ, He says, they are treading dangerously close to this sin.

A paraphrase of BHS could well be “Slandering the Sacred Breath”, the Breath of God appears in Gen 1 to form creation out of chaos, and enters Adam in Gen 2 to make him a fully living being. An offense against “Holy Spirit/Sacred Breath” is an offense against the very immanent life-giving presence of God in creation, and thus spiritual suicide. But as Christ also explains, it’s an aionion/continual/ ongoing/lifelong sin, so that while one offense may come dangerously close
to that sin, and may start a long line of such sin, one instance of it is not necessarily permanently dooming.

Catholic Doctrine does not teach that “everyone goes to purgatory,” so we are starting from a false premise, here. Purgatory is not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, but since the RCC does not hold to Sola Scriptura (seeing no reason to condemn all the early Christians who lived and died before the Gospels were written), that argument is only valid for those people outside the RCC and is a non-issue for Catholics. The concept of praying for those who have died, but who have not attained Heaven, is found in 2 Maccabbees. It is hardly the fault of the RCC that various Protestant groups chose to throw out 1500 years of Christian tradition by eliminating that work from their canon.

There is no claim by the Church that “everyone” must go to Purgatory and no condition requiring that those in Purgatory “must be purified through the conduction of masses by the ‘Church’,” so that assessment is in error. (Although it will be noted that when the Church prays for all the souls, it does not limit itself to registered members of the Church, so if the Church did try to impose that rule (which it has not) then it would not be a bar to people outside the Church entering heaven.)

As to the rejection of the RCC, the linked articles clearly indicate that the rejection must be fully informed. (This is an ancient aspect of Catholic teachings; one cannot commit a sin in ignorance–if one does not realize that an action is a sin, one cannot be condemned for having sinned.) The RCC recognizes that there are many things that will interfere with a person’s ability to recognize the correctness of Church teaching. The Church deplores those aspects of the world that interfere with any person’s full understanding, but it does not go so far as to claim that everyone who fails to understand is, therefore, damned.

If you have a problem with the arrogance of the RCC in believing they have the fullness of Truth, that is understandable. Pretending that they are condemning people whom they are not condemning, however, is an error.

What if one does* hear the gospel of Christ, and rejects it, choosing to rely on their own merits to gain eternal life? what happens to them?

by the way, what is the gospel of Christ?

JMS, I have to ask, are these questions asked in sincere desire of hearing what the Catholic answer to them might be, or are they rhetorical, intended to set up an argument?

I think it’s clear that you know what your own answers to them might be, and are not asking them out of ignorance of the answers. So I am curious as to where you are intending to go with them.

I will presume JMS@CCT, rather than discussing what is or is not actually contained in Catholic doctrine is more interested in witnessing as to its error.

Although, some “errors” are not even there. In his latest post, his first rethorical question seems irrelevant to the discussion, since every mainstream Christian tradition teaches that Salvation comes from the Grace of God and not the merit of man; differences being as to how you get to receive that Grace.

As mentioned, modern Catholicism allows as to how God may grant salvation to non-Christians (never mind even non-Catholics) “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”. After all God decides who shall receive Grace, as his exclusive and absolute prerrogative; so he can decide to grant it to an Atheist who lives a good, generous, humane, love-affirming life, but just happened to never really be convinced by the gospel as presented.

You may be sorry you asked, but since you have, here it is.

My desire is to point out what the official doctrinal statements of the Roman Catholic Church are, as they are recorded in Vatican Council II, the Catechism (second edition), the Catholic Instructor, (and, by the way, reinforced in official books like “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” by John Paul 2, 1994)) etc., and to show through these statements that they (The episcopate) absolutely believe they are the successors of the apostles and therefore the possessors of the keys–giving them the power to retain or remit sins–and the visible presence of Christ’s church on the earth. If this is true, then no one is going to access God or heaven unless they go through them and their appointed emmisaries.

To counter this by saying( as some others have said in this thread) something like: “Well, you should know that this isn’t what they really believe, because they have made statements to the contrary eslewhere,” won’t wash with me. That is like saying that Jesus, when he made the exclusionary statement in John 14:6, that he is the way the truth and the life, and no one is getting to God, but by him, didn’t really mean this, because, gosh, that would exclude all the “good” folks in “other” faiths, and that would make him appear to be unreasonable and dogmatic and unloving, etc., etc., etc., and we wouldn’t want the world to think that of him, would we?

What do I believe about this (Rome’s claims)? I don’t believe any of it. I don’t believe it because it doesn’t square with scripture, rightly divided (see 2 Timothy 2:15). I’m not saying that the basis for their (Rome’s) claims isn’t scriptural. What I’m saying is this: the authority they are claiming from scripture isn’t in effect in the world (system) we are presently in. There is no need for any authority to remit anyones sins, because God isn’t presently imputing (charging) the world’s sins to them; he’s charged Christ with them. (see 2Cor. 5:19–21)

And now we come to the question I asked you: “What is the gospel of Christ?” You asked if that question was rehtorical. Absolutely not! I am very interested in what others believe it is because, according to Romans 1:16, “it is the power of God unto salvation.” What do I believe it is? I’ll defer to scripture in my answer. The phrase “the gospel of Christ,” occurs twelve times in my Bible (KJV), every one of them in the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon. That being the case, this is where I want to look to find it. I understand that the four gospels (Mt,Mk,Lk,Jn) contain the record of the Lord’s earthly ministry, the claims to his diety, his crucifiction, resurrection, and ascension, and believe this, indeed, is foundational to the gospel of Christ, but this doesn’t explain to anyone in the world today what all this produced for them. What his sacrifice and subsequent resurrection produced for the world we now live in is the domain of Paul’s epistles, and “the gospel of Christ,” viz., that he died for our sins…was buried…and raised again for our justification…and that anyone who is willing to believe this, claiming him as their Saviour, can be saved and sealed eternally, and bound for heaven (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Romans 4:25; Acts 16:31; Eph. 1:13,14), without the aid or interference of any religious system.

Other scriptures concerning what the gospel of Christ is, and what it produced

Romans 3:20-23
" 4:4-7, 15
" 5:1-11
" 6: 7,14, 23
" 8:38-39
Eph. 1:3-7
" 2:8,9
Col. 2: 8-14
1 Thess 4:13-18
Titus 3:5