Sunday, October 30, 2016

Protestant "Dogma"

I know a young man who truly loves Jesus and His gospels and seeks His truth.  His knowledge of scripture is near total.  He has posted a long and exacting analysis of the Protestant premise of Once Saved - Always Saved. (link)

I have read this piece several times and am impressed by this man's integrity.  His objective attitude as he researched this question lead to his correct conclusion, that a man of sincere faith can indeed grievously sin and lose heaven.

The two main pillars of Protestantism are Faith Alone and Scripture Alone.  Scripture Alone is the sound bite for, "The Church Has No Authority To Teach".  Faith Alone is the sound bite for, "The Church Has No Authority To Forgive Sins".

St. Matthew 28: 18-20
And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.  Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.  And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

St. Mark 16: 15
And He said to them: Ge ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.

With all due respect, most any well formed Catholic third grader would have answered this question correctly, for it is taught by the Church, as it has been for centuries.  The above scripture citations commands the Church to go and teach Christ's commandments and moral code to the entire world and that is exactly what she did and continues to do.  Along the way there were many serious questions that arose and the Church through councils and discernment settled them and authoritatively declared what was worthy of belief.  This brought the Faith intact into the sixteenth century.  The Protestant method of trusting only scripture forces a man to bushwhack his way through centuries of questions and confusion as he searches for Truth.  I picture such a man whacking his way through a jungle of the world's lies while not fifty feet away from a well marked pathway, a pathway laid out by scriptural giants such as St. Augustine, Justin Martyr, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Benedict, St. Jerome and so many others, who all loved Christ and His Church and defended the Faith from error.

In the sixteenth century several men, Martin Luther being one, promoted the Scripture Alone (the Church has no authority) heresy.  This forces mankind back to square one in his search for Truth.  Thus a man of integrity must study the scripture like a scholar and find his own answers, which means that he must be able to read, a skill which wasn't widely possessed in those first fifteen hundred years and we must pray that his discernment of these many pressing questions is always correct.  Another problem with Scripture Alone lies in moving forward, once a man has settled a question for himself, could we believe him if he told us his conclusion?  Who is he?  We may know someone else, whom we respect, who says the opposite.  Opinions may be seriously divergent and another sect is born, as has happened thousands of times since men like Martin Luther, King Henry VIII, John Calvin, etal.  Who has the final say?  The citations above clear up those confusions, for it is the Catholic Church who holds the teaching authority and any simple person of faith can take it to the bank (Heaven).

Almost the instant men wrested the teaching authority from the Church the question arose of, "What about sins?"  This necessitated Faith Alone, so to soothe the guilty conscience and prevent people from seeking the Church's forgiveness.  This leads to Once Saved Always Saved to render peace to that same guilty conscience who has seriously sinned following his acceptance of Faith Alone.  What does happen to the sincere believer who has grievously sinned?  The author of the linked article has reasoned that there is a juncture here.  If the sinner feels remorse and contrition, Christ forgives and his salvation was never lost.  However if he hardens his heart and remains obstinate in sin, salvation is lost.  Neat, but incomplete.

 St. Matthew 16: 18-19
And I say to thee: That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.  And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  And whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth, it is bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

St. John 20: 21-23
He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you.  As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.  When he had said this, he breathed on them: and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.  Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

By Christ's own words, another primary function of the Church is to administer His forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance - Confession.  Peter and by extension, the Church holds the keys to heaven.  Her mission is to teach the Faith and to help sinners to return to good graces when they fail.  Compare the difference: One man labors over scripture trying to justify his state of salvation, trying to decide if Faith Alone is sufficient or should he accept Once Saved - Always Saved, just to be sure; and a Catholic, who confesses his sins to the living, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church, whom scripture states has that authority, and hears the words, from the steward of Christ, "Your sins have been forgiven. Go in peace."

Finally, it must be noted that each of these Protestant statements (you cannot call them dogma since there is no person of authority to proclaim them as true, by their own meaning), were never heard of in those first fifteen centuries.  They only got traction as the men who were in rebellion leveraged their messages with the newly invented printing press.  Scripture doesn't even say or hint at those statements, however there are citations abound which show the authority of the Church.

Look for the line of authority; God - Jesus - Catholic Church - Priest - penitent.  If you can connect those tiers with objective scriptural text, then you have found home.

One final question:  The Catholic Church has the mission to teach the commandments of Christ Jesus to the entire world. (Scriptural citation above).  She has clearly and consistently taught that any and all use of contraception is a grave evil.  Are you listening?