"Have you been saved?"
In saying the above Fundamentalists assert their absolute certainty that they will enter heaven immediately after dying. They believe that Christ actually guarantees heaven in exchange for simply "accepting Christ as their personal Savior." Once Christ is accepted in this way you are "born again" ("born anew"- St. John 3, 3), and no matter what you may do afterwards, whether good or bad, you cannot forfeit your place in heaven.
Catholics, on the other hand, believe that Christ, by His death and resurrection has redeemed us and opened the Gates of Heaven. Our Lord has done His part and we must correspond by doing ours. Consequently, only those souls that are objectively good and pleasing to God at the time of death merit heaven. It follows that a person living a saintly life all their years can, at the last moment, throw away any chance for eternal life through subsequent serious unrepentant sin before death.
How, then, is the term "born again" to be understood? Fundamentalists assert that upon accepting Christ as personal savior God "covers ones sinfulness." The soul remains sinful and ugly, it is just that God "throws a cloak over it."
Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church understands being "born again" in a different way. One is born again through Baptism. Nicodemus was told by Christ that one must be born again by water and the Holy Spirit (St. John 3, 5 [Douai]). Many Fundamentalists regard Baptism only as an ordinance, unnecessary for salvation.
Further, Baptism does not simply "cover ones sins," it actually removes them, making the soul beautiful in Gods eyes, shining with sanctifying grace infused by the Holy Spirit:
"Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them" (St. John 14, 23);
"Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2, 38);
"Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name" (Acts 22,16);
"...he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Tit. 3, 5-7).
Sacred Scripture throughout conceives the forgiveness of sins as a real and thorough removal: "wash," "cleanse" (Ps. 51 , 2); "removes" (Ps. 103 , 12); "takes away" (St. John 1, 29); "inner renewal" (Eph. 4, 23); "washed," "sanctified" (1 Cor. 6, 11).
Is it true that Christ gave a so-called "assurance of salvation," based simply on professing faith in Him? Scripture asserts the contrary:
"Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (St. Matt. 7, 21);
(God) "will render to every man according to his works" (Rom. 2, 6);
"Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off" (Rom. 11, 22);
"I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me" (1 Cor. 4, 4);
"...but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified" (1 Cor. 9, 27);
"And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13, 2);
"For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Cor. 5, 10);
"Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2, 12);
"For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries" (Heb. 10, 26-27);
"What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save you?...So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead...Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?...You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone...For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead" (St. Jas. 2, 14; 17; 20; 24; 26).
These verses clearly demonstrate that God will judge us according to all our actions, and not by simply whether we "accepted Christ as our personal Lord and Savior." There is no guarantee of salvation, perseverance in faith and good works are required until the end.
"Have you been saved?" asks the Fundamentalist. "We are redeemed," is our answer, "and like St. Paul we are working out our salvation in fear and trembling, doing good and voiding evil, waiting for judgment day with hope when we will be judged according to all our works."
St. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children (Ante 202 A.D.):
"When we are baptized, we are enlightened. Being enlightened, we are adopted as sons. Adopted as sons, we are made perfect. Made perfect, we are become immortal. I say, he declares, you are gods and sons of the Most High. This work is variously called grace, illumination, perfection, and washing. It is a washing by which we are cleansed of sins; a gift of grace by which the punishments due our sins are remitted."
St. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies (Post 202 A.D.):
"When we hear, Your faith has saved you, we do not understand (The Lord) to say simply that they will be saved who have believed in whatever manner, even if works have not followed. To begin with, it was to the Jews alone that He spoke this phrase, who had lived in accord with the law and blamelessly, and who had lacked only faith in the Lord."
Origen, Commentaries on St. John (Inter 226-232 A.D.):
"Whoever dies in his sins, even if he profess to believe in Christ, does not truly believe in Him; and even if that which exists without works be called faith, such faith is dead in itself, as we read in the Epistle bearing the name of James."
St. Jerome, Commentaries on the Epistle to the Galatians (C. 386-387 A.D.):
"But since in the Law no one is justified before God, it is evident that the just man lives by faith...It should be noted that he does not say that a man, a person, lives by faith, lest it be thought that he is contemning good works. Rather, he says the just man lives by faith. He implies thereby that whoever would be faithful and would conduct his life according to the faith can in no other way arrive at the faith or live in it except first he be a just man of pure life, coming up to the faith as it were by certain degrees."
Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):
...in these our days there are not wanting those who, to their own serious injury, have the impious hardihood to assert that the observance of the law, whether easy or difficult, is by no means necessary for salvation...A man, it is true, may be justified, and from wicked may become righteous, before he has fulfilled, by external acts, each of the Commandments; but no one who has arrived at the use of reason can be justified, unless he is resolved to keep all of Gods Commandments.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):
No. 1987: The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" and through Baptism...
No. 1992: Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy...
ContentsCANON OF THE BIBLE
"How many books in the Bible?; and how do we really know which books should belong to it and which ones not?"
These are important and difficult questions for both Catholics and Protestants: important, because we need to be certain that it is to the Word of God and not the word of men that the Church refers to when determining vital questions concerning faith and morals; difficult, because the Bible does not tell us which books should belong to it.
The word "canon" means official list. At the time of Christ there existed two canons of the Old Testament - the Hebrew of the Palestinian Jews and the Greek Septuagint of the Alexandrian Jews. The latter was a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek begun about 250 B.C. by 70 Greek-speaking Jewish scholars. Due to the Hellenization of the eastern Mediterranean world after the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greek became the popular and common language of that part of the world. The large Jewish communities outside of Palestine no longer spoke Hebrew or Aramaic as their first language. It was therefore felt necessary to produce a vernacular version of the Sacred Scriptures for them in Greek.
Dispute arises over the canon of Scripture due to the fact that the Greek Septuagint contains forty-six books while the Hebrew canon only thirty-nine. The additional books are Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and 1 & 2 Maccabees. In addition, the books of Daniel and Esther in the Septuagint contain extra chapters. Dispute has also arisen at times over the canon of the New Testament. Some early Christians had doubts as to the genuineness of Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, St. James, St. Jude and Revelation. These doubts were echoed by some of the early Protestant Reformers, notably Luther. Added to this confusion, some in the early Church regarded letters such as the Epistles of Barnabas and Clement, among others, as Scriptural. The oldest scrolls in our possession which give a complete list of the Old Testament books date back only to the 4th century.
Amidst this confusion the Catholic has the way to certainty - the infallible voice of the Church founded by Christ which, in the Decrees of Popes St. Damasus (382 A.D.) and St. Innocent I (405 A.D.), the Councils of Hippo (393 A.D.), Carthage (397 A.D.) and Trent (1545), accepted as canonical the Greek Septuagint and all the books of the New Testament. Protestants, on the other hand, reject the seven additional books of the Septuagint and accept the whole New Testament. By doing this they in effect follow the canon of the Old Testament as determined by Jews at the Council of Jamnia held in 90 A.D. The Jews in this council, in an attempt to counter the early Christians who quoted the Septuagint in support of the claims of Christ, only accepted those Old Testament books which were (i) written in Hebrew; (ii) conformed to the Torah; (iii) pre-dated the time of Ezra (400 B.C.); and (iv) written in Palestine. Nevertheless, it is certain that Christ and His Apostles cited the Greek Septuagint, as over 300 of the 350 quotations from the Old Testament contained in the New are taken from it. In any case, for all intents and purposes, Jamnia was not authoritative as all legitimate authority since Pentecost had passed to the Catholic Church.
In the New Testament, there are a number of passages inspired by passages from the Deutero-canonical Books:
St. Matt. 6, 14 = Sir. 28, 2; St. Matt. 27, 39 = Wis. 2, 12;
St. Mark 7, 36 = Sir. 39, 21; St. Luke 1, 42 = Judith. 13, 23;
St. Luke 12, 19 = Sir. 11, 19; St. John 7, 7 = Wis. 2, 14;
St. John 14, 23 = Sir. 2, 18; Rom. 1, 20 = Wis. 13, 14;
1 Thess. 4, 3 = Tob. 4, 13; Heb. 11, 35 = 2 Macc. 6, 18;
St. Jas. 1, 19 = Sir. 5, 11; 1 Pet. 1, 6 = Wis. 3, 3.
Protestants may have other reasons for rejecting the extra seven books of the Septuagint. These additional books contain certain doctrines contrary to their teachings. For example, the second Book of Maccabees speaks of prayers for the dead in chapter 12 and the communion and intercession of saints in chapter 15. Martin Luther rejected the Epistle of St. James as an "Epistle of Straw" simply because it contradicted his own theory of justification by faith alone, and said about Revelation "I find many things defective in this book, which make me consider it neither Apostolic or Prophetic." Nevertheless, Luther had to admit that "We are obliged to yield many things to the Papists - that they possess the Word of God which we received from them, otherwise we should have known nothing at all about it."
Early lists of the canon are found in the writings of St. Melito of Sardes (C. 177 A.D.), St. Irenaeus of Lyons (C.180 A.D.) and the Muratorian Fragment (Inter 155 - 200 A.D.). St. Clement of Rome referred to Judith, the Didache quotes Ecclesiasticus and St. Polycarp cites Tobias.
Exhortation to the Greeks (Inter 260 - 302 A.D.):
"Ptolemy, the king of Egypt, when he had constructed a library in Alexandria, and had filled it by collecting books from everywhere, afterwards learned that ancient histories written in Hebrew letters had been carefully preserved. Desiring to know these writings, he sent for seventy wise men from Jerusalem who knew both the Greek and the Hebrew languages, and appointed them to translate the books...He supplied attendants to care for their every need, and also to prevent their communicating with each other, so that it might be possible to know the accuracy of the translation, by their agreement one with another. When he found that the seventy men had given not only the same meaning, but even the same words, and had failed to agree with each other by not so much as a single word, but had written the same things about the same things, he was struck with amazement, and believed that the translation had been written with divine authority." (This is an account of the translating of the Septuagint accepted by many of the Fathers.)
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures (C. 350 A.D.):
"The process (of translating the Septuagint from the Hebrew text) was no invention of words and contrivance of human wisdom. On the contrary, the translation was effected by the Holy Spirit, by Whom the Divine Scriptures were spoken."
Decree of Damasus, The Canon of Sacred Scripture (382 A.D.):
"Likewise it has been said: now indeed we must treat of the divine Scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she ought to shun:...Likewise Wisdom one book, Ecclesiasticus one book...Likewise the order of the histories. Job one book, Tobias one book, Esdras two books, Esther one book, Judith one book, Machabees two books."
However, subsequent to this Decree various Fathers still expressed different opinions on the constitution of the Canon:
St. Jerome, Preface to the Three Solomonic Books (C. 398 A.D.):
"There is also the book of Jesus, son of Sirach...and another book, Wisdom, attributed to Solomon...the second was never known in Hebrew, for its very style bespeaks Greek eloquence; and some of the older authors affirm that it is a work of Philo the Jew. Just as the Church reads Judith and Tobias and the Books of Maccabees, but does not accept them as belonging among the canonical Scriptures, so too let her read these two volumes for the edification of the people but not for the purpose of confirming the authority of the Churchs teachings."
St. Rufinus of Aquileia, Explanation of the Apostles Creed (404 A.D.):
"These are the writings which the Fathers included in the canon, and on which they desired the affirmations of our faith to be based. At the same time we should appreciate that there are certain books which our predecessors designated ecclesiastical rather than canonical. Thus, there is the Wisdom of Solomon, as we call it; and another Wisdom, ascribed to the son of Sirach...The Book of Tobias belongs to the same class, as do Judith and the books of the Machabees. In the New Testament we have the little work known as The Book of the Shepherd, or Hermas, and the book which is named The Two Ways, and The Judgment of Peter. They desired that all these should be read in the Churches, but that appeal should not be made to them on points of faith."
All debate over the canon ended after St. Peter, in the person of Pope Innocent I, spoke:
Pope Innocent I, Letter to Exsuperius, Bishop of Toulouse (405 A.D.):
"A short annotation shows what books are to be accepted as canonical. As you wished to be informed specifically, they are as follows: The five books of Moses, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; and Jesus Nave, one of Judges, four of Kingdoms, and also Ruth, sixteen books of Prophets, five books of Solomon, the Psalter. Likewise, of histories, one book of Job, one book of Tobias, one of Esther, one of Judith, two of Maccabees, two of Esdras, two books of Paralipomenon. Likewise, of the New Testament: four books of Gospels, fourteen Epistles of Paul, three Epistles of John, two Epistles of Peter, the Epistle of Jude, the Epistle of James, the Acts of the Apostles, the Apocalypse of John. Others, however, which were written under the name of Matthias or of James the Less, or under the name of Peter and of John, by a certain Leucius,- or under the name of Andrew, by the philosophers Nexocharis and Leonidas,- or under the name of Thomas, and such others as may be, are not only to be repudiated, but, as you know, are also to be condemned."
St Augustine of Hippo, Against the Letter of Mani (397 A.D.):
"If you should find someone who does not yet believe in the Gospel, what would you answer him when he says: I do not believe? Indeed, I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so."
Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):
No reference was made in the Catechism of the Council of Trent to the Canon of the Bible; the question was addressed by the Council itself in the Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures April 8, 1546:
"But if anyone receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema."
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):
No. 120: It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament (45 if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one) and 27 for the New...
No. 121: The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.
No. 124: The Word of God, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, is set forth and displays its power in a most wonderful way in the writings of the New Testament which hand on the ultimate truth of Gods Revelation. Their central object is Jesus Christ, Gods incarnate Son: his acts, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Churchs beginnings under the Spirits guidance.
"I am not going to believe anything unless you can show it to me in the Bible. In any case, tradition is condemned in the Bible as contrary to the Word of God (St. Matt. 15, 6)!"
Does the Bible really teach that it is the sole rule of faith? According to "Bible Christians" it certainly does. They cite as proof the following verses:
"But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name" (St. John 20, 31);
"All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3, 16-17);
"These Jews were more receptive than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17, 11).
However, when looking at these three verses closely, it is clear that all strictly say nothing in support of Sola Scriptura. The verse from St. Johns Gospel speaks only of the purpose why he wrote it, namely, to convince its readers that Jesus was the Christ. It makes no assertion that the Bible as it stands today contains all that is needed for salvation, nor does it exclude any other medium, either written or oral, as a means of passing on the truths of Christ. In fact, if one was to be consistent, St. Johns words could be construed as an argument that his Gospel alone, excluding the other three, is necessary for salvation - that is, Sola Joannem!
The second verse are words of St. Paul to St. Timothy. They are perhaps the cornerstone for most Protestant arguments in favor of Sola Scriptura. Yet, again, there are no words such as "alone" or "only" used with respect to Sacred Scripture. No-one who claims to be Christian, least of all the Catholic Church, denies that Scripture is "inspired" and "profitable" to perfect a "man of God." But it is certainly different to assert that Scripture is "sufficient." However, "sufficient" is not the word used by St. Paul. Cardinal Newman certainly saw the Protestant fallacy in using 2 Tim. 3, 15-17 to support Sola Scriptura over a century ago:
"It is quite evident that this passage furnishes no argument whatever that the Sacred Scripture, without Tradition, is the sole rule of faith; for, although Sacred Scripture is profitable for these four ends, still it is not said to be sufficient. The Apostle requires the aid of Tradition (2 Thes. 2, 14). Moreover, the Apostle here refers to the Scriptures which Timothy was taught in his infancy."1
The third passage from Acts refers to the Bereans who received the Gospel enthusiastically and were now checking its claims against "the Scriptures." At first glance it could be claimed that as the Bereans were using the written Scriptures as their only "rule of faith," they therefore established the precedent for all other Christians. However, what is often overlooked is that the Bereans had "received the word" orally, and that they were checking its claims against the Old Testament Scriptures only. Certainly no-one would reasonably suggest that Christians today imitate the Bereans and have only the Old Testament as the rule of faith.
Not only is the doctrine of Sola Scriptura not found in the Bible, it is expressly denied by it. The Scriptures we have in hand expressly state that they do not contain everything (St. John 20, 30; 21, 25), or give us an account of all that Christ had said or done (St. John 16, 12). In addition, we know that there existed other sacred writings now lost, such as an earlier letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians mentioned in 1 Cor. 5, 9: "I wrote to you in my letter...But now I am writing to you..." Also missing is St. Pauls letter to the Laodiceans (Col. 4, 16).
Nevertheless, the fact there are parts of the written Word of God missing is of no fatal consequence to Catholics. This is so because the Catholic Church maintains that divine Revelation is fully contained in its Magisterium (body of teaching), comprised of both written Scripture and Tradition. Tradition here is Apostolic Tradition, not merely the tradition of men, and ranks equally with the written Word to complete divine Revelation. Tradition supplements the written Word of God, it does not contradict it. Further, it assists the Church to fully understand and appreciate the whole written Word. Tradition embraces all those truths which have been passed on from age to age either orally, in the writings of the Church Fathers, in the Acts of the Martyrs, in early paintings and inscriptions, in the practices and customs of the Universal Church etc.
Contrary to Protestant mythology, tradition is actually praised in Sacred Scripture: "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thes. 2, 15). Oral preaching was the medium of spreading the Gospel before the New Testament was written: Acts 2, 42; Rom. 10, 17; 1 Cor. 11, 2; 15, 3; 2 Tim 2, 2; 1 Pet. 1, 25. Were the early Christians, therefore, victims of false prophets preaching the "commandments of men" simply because they received the Gospel orally? Such an assertion would be ridiculous. What was condemned by Christ in St. Matt. 15, 6 (and by St. Paul in Col. 2, 8) was not tradition per se, but those traditions, whether doctrines or practices, which made Gods Word and Commandments ineffective. It is the Church, as the indefectible teaching authority established by Christ, which determines what is or is not authentic Tradition.
"But once the New Testament was finally complete there was no more need for tradition."
Such an argument goes back to the very core of the Sola Scriptura debate. The short Catholic answer is: "Where does it say that in the Bible?" As time passed, the written New Testament would supplement Tradition, but not supplant it. The best response, however, is that Christ did not intend to leave all His teachings in a single book, but in the Church, whether written, oral or otherwise. When Christ ascended back into heaven He left behind a hierarchical authority to continue His mission in the world. This hierarchy was invested with divine authority to govern in His name (St. Matt. 16, 13; 18, 18); is to be obeyed by all the faithful (St. Luke 10, 16); and will last until the end of the world (St. Matt. 16, 18; 28, 20). Sola Scriptura, by implication, also rejects the need for an authoritative body outside of the Bible to determine vital questions of faith and morals. Yet, it is this same authority that St. Paul attests is "the pillar and bulwark of the truth" (1 Tim. 3, 15).
"But I can understand the Bible through the Holy Spirit without the need for a church or tradition!"
St. Peter himself warned that the "ignorant and unstable" would "twist" the Scriptures "to their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3, 16). One fruit of private interpretation of the Bible has been the spawning of over 25 000 different Protestant denominations all claiming to be "Bible-believing," yet agreeing on little more than their anti-Catholic tenets.
The Bible is a compilation of books all written in the ancient past and in languages for the most part dead to the average layman. Sacred Scripture itself mentions the difficulty of interpretation: 2 Pet. 3, 16; Heb. 5, 11-12. If the Holy Spirit gives an infallible explanation of the Bible to every individual reader, why did He not explain it to the Ethiopian minister in Acts 8, 30-31: "So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, Do you understand what you are reading? He replied, How can I, unless some one guides me?" It is the Catholic Church which has the true understanding of Sacred Scripture, aided by the Holy Spirit who will guide it in all truth until the end of the world (St. Matt. 28). It is insulting to Christ to assert that He would leave a written book without a divinely-protected living authority to safeguard and interpret it.
St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies (C. 180 A.D.):
"If there should be a dispute over some kind of question, ought we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches in which the Apostles were familiar, and draw from them what is clear and certain in regard to that question? What if the Apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the Churches?"
Tertullian, Demurrer Against the Heretics (200 A.D.):
"Wherever it shall be clear that the truth of the Christian discipline and faith are present, there also will be found the truth of the Scriptures and of their explanation, and of all the Christian traditions."
Origen, Fundamental Doctrines (C. 220 A.D.):
"Although there are many who believe that they themselves hold to the teachings of Christ, there are yet some among them who think differently from their predecessors. The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the Apostles, and remains in the Churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition."
St. Basil the Great, The Holy Spirit (375 A.D.):
"Of the dogmas and kerygmas preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the tradition of the Apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety both are of the same force. No one will contradict any of these, no one, at any rate, who is even moderately versed in matters ecclesiastical. Indeed, were we to try to reject unwritten customs as having no great authority, we would unwittingly injure the Gospel in its vitals."
St. Epiphanius, Against all Heresies (377 A.D.):
"It is not necessary that all the divine words have an allegorical meaning. Consideration and perception is needed in order to know the meaning of the argument of each. It is needful also to make use of Tradition; for not everything can be gotten from Sacred Scripture. The Holy Apostles handed down some things in the Scriptures, other things in Tradition."
St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Thessalonians (C. 400 A.D.):
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or by our letter. From this it is clear that they did not hand down everything by letter, but there was much also that was not written. Like that which was written, the unwritten too is worthy of belief. So let us regard the tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. Is it a tradition? Seek no further."
St. Augustine of Hippo, Letter to Januarius (C. 400 A.D.):
"But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the Apostles themselves or by plenary councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church."
Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):
Now all the doctrines in which the faithful are to be instructed are contained in the Word of God, which is found in Scripture and Tradition. To the study of these, therefore, the pastor should devote his days and nights, keeping in mind the admonition of St. Paul to Timothy, which all who have care of souls should consider as addressed to themselves: Attend to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine, for all scripture divinely inspired is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct injustice, that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):
No. 80: Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal. Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own "always, to the close of the age."
No. 82: As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.
No. 83: The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.
ContentsTHE ONE TRUE CHURCH
"All Churches are the same. I dont need to attend any church to worship God. I can pray and read the Bible in my own room."
To profess belief in Jesus Christ not only obliges the Christian to believe in His person, but to believe in and follow what He established to continue His work of salvation in the world after His ascension. That Our Lord Jesus Christ intended to establish a Church of His own and require the faithful to obey it is clear from Sacred Scripture:
"...and on this rock I will build my Church..." (St. Matt. 16, 18). The Church belongs to Christ as it was founded by Him while He was still on earth; it is not a man-made institution established centuries later bearing the name of the particular heresiarch who spawned its existence.
This Church is to be a visible organization:
"A city built on a hill cannot be hid" (St. Matt. 5, 14). Being visible, Christs Church possesses a hierarchical authority to govern it (St. Luke 6, 13) which is invested with His own mission (St. John 20, 21) to teach (St. Matt. 28, 20) to rule (St. Matt. 18, 17-18) and to sanctify the faithful (St. John 15, 16).
Christ appointed St. Peter as head of this visible and hierarchical Church on earth:
"You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church" (St. Matt. 16, 18).
As head, St. Peter is invested with Christs own authority to rule and govern:
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (St. Matt. 16, 18-19).
Those who purport to ignore Christs Church through their own disobedience no longer belong to its unity:
"if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (St. Matt. 18, 17).
To ignore the Church, one effectively ignores Christ:
"He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me" (St. Luke 10, 16).
Despite the disobedience and protestations of its enemies and the rebellious, Christ will protect His Church so that "the gates of hades will not prevail against it" (St. Matt. 16, 18), lasting "always, to the end of the age" (St. Matt. 28, 20).
Our Lord not only took pains to establish His Church, but endowed it with four outstanding visible signs or "marks" which are intrinsic only to it: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
"I will build my Church" (not Churches) (St. Matt. 16, 18). Protestantism is not one united body in doctrine and discipline, but a series of disparate organizations antagonistic not only to Catholicism but also often to each other.
"...one flock, one shepherd" (St. John 10, 16). The central authority of the Pope of Rome has kept the Catholic Church united in doctrine and discipline since the days of the Roman Empire. Protestantism continues to splinter with the advent of each new self-appointed "prophet" who claims to hold the true meaning of Sacred Scripture.
"And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth" (St. John 17, 19).
The true Church will be holy in Her founder, teachings and worship. There is no guarantee that all its members will practice what She preaches as is gathered from Our Lords images of the sower of the seed (St. Matt. 13, 18-23), the net enclosing the fish (St. Matt. 13, 47-52), and the sheep and the goats (St. Matt. 25, 31-46). The survival of the Catholic Church despite the examples of "bad Popes" only reinforces the fact that the holiness of the Church derives from Christ and Him alone.
"Going therefore and make disciples of all nations..." (St. Matt. 28, 19).
Remaining essentially one and the same, the Church adapts to all times, places and people. No nation or race is excluded from Her fold, no language from proclaiming Her Gospel. Those who assert that the true believers are only white and Anglo-Saxon limit the redeeming power of Christs Precious Blood.
The true Church will trace its history and doctrine right back to the Apostles themselves: "I am with you always..." (St. Matt. 28, 20). It was not established in 1517, 1534, 1540 or in the nineteenth century. It must have existed since the Apostles, exist now, and continue until the end of the world.
Only the Roman Catholic Church can show itself to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
St. Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians (C. 96 - 98 A.D.):
"The Apostles received the gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; and Jesus Christ was sent from God. Christ, therefore, is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both of these orderly arrangements, then, are by Gods will. Receiving their instructions and being full of confidence on account of the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and confirmed in faith by the word of God, they went forth in the complete assurance of the Holy Spirit, preaching the good news that the Kingdom of God is coming. Through countryside and city they preached; and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty: for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. Indeed, Scripture somewhere says: I will set up their bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith."
St. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies (Post 202 A.D.):
"From what has been said, then, it seems clear to me that the true Church, that which is really ancient, is one; and in it are enrolled those who, in accord with a design are just...We say, therefore, that in substance, in concept, in origin and in eminence, the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, gathering as it does into the unity of the one faith which results from the familiar covenants, - or rather, from the one covenant in different times, by the will of the one God and through the one Lord, - those already chosen, those predestined by God, who knew before the foundation of the world that they would be just."
St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to Florentius Pupianus (254 A.D.):
"There speaks Peter, upon whom the Church would be built, teaching in the name of the Church and showing that even if a stubborn and proud multitude withdraws because it does not wish to obey, yet the Church does not withdraw from Christ. The people joined to the priest and the flock clinging to their shepherd are the Church."
St. John Chrysostom (+407 A.D.), De Incomprehensibili 3, 6:
"You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests."
Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):
The true Church is also to be recognized from her origin, which can be traced back under the law of grace to the Apostles; for her doctrine is the truth not recently given, nor now first heard of, but delivered of old by the Apostles, and disseminated throughout the entire world. Hence no one can doubt that the impious opinions which heresy invents, opposed as they are to the doctrines taught by the Church from the days of the Apostles to the present time, are very different from the faith of the true Church.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):
"Outside the Church there is no salvation"
No. 846: How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Reformulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. 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.
No. 847: This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
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.
No. 848: 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.
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