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Tessie Moreno wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a little perplexed by the constant statement that the Catholic Church is the only way to salvation.

My understanding from Bible and theology classes is that the Church is the people, not the building or denomination you claim. I was raised Catholic but unfortunately I was never exposed to the Bible, in or out of school or church. We were always, or so I felt, sheltered or screened in what we were taught or even encouraged to read. Since leaving the Catholic Church for a non-denominational Bible-based church, I have learned more in these last ten years than in my twenty plus years going to services at the Catholic Church.

I feel this is very unfortunate since, my current faith could have saved me in many areas of my life, had I been exposed to even half of what I now know about God. It saddens me greatly.

I do not believe that faith plus works brings you salvation but I also do not believe there is any possible way you can be saved and not perform works that are pleasing to Our Lord and Savior. It is Faith alone that saves you by God's grace and His Ultimate Sacrifice. There is nothing more important.

I do not believe that there is anyone — no one as important or equal to the power of God the Father, the Son, or Holy Spirit. Does it not say:

"So be careful not to break the covenant the Lord your God has made with you. You will break it if you make idols of any shape or form, for the Lord your God has absolutely forbidden this. The Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God."

Deuteronomy 4:23-24 NLT

"So honor the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone".

Joshua 24:14 NLT

  • Would these not include the idols of the Virgin Mary and saints all over many Catholic churches?

Most of my family prays to them — not asking Mary or the other saints to pray for them, but they actually pray to Mary or the other saints. They have never been taught otherwise; or they do not understand the difference.

I find it hard to accept that just because of a difference in interpretation, one denomination would [fight and] judge another as not being part of their denomination and therefore un-savable.

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom
I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvations, and my stronghold. I will call on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, for He save me from my enemies."

Psalm 18:2-3

He saves me — not a denomination, whether it's the oldest or not.

  • Is not Jesus the reason for our faith in the first place?

"You must worship the Lord your God, serve only him."

Matthew 4:10b

  • Is He not the only reason we have salvation?

"God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them."

Matthew 5:3

  • And if we believe the Bible to be pure truth, why would that truth not be enough?

Martin Luther challenged the Church and they could not answer him either.

I believe this sums it up for many church goers because they do not understand. It is certainly what I felt when I was a practicing Catholic.

Jesus replied:

6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God."

8 For you ignore God's law and substitute your own tradition.”

Mark 7:6-8

  • How is what I learned in Catholic Church different from the above?
    • e.g. Tradition and the Pope over the Scriptures?

At some point, I believe that our Lord God wants us to unite, not to fight, but unite, not as a denomination but as Christ's followers — the common church being Jesus' teachings, and what He wanted for each and everyone of us.

Building upon that rock of faith and grace and The Ultimate Sacrifice, not on traditions, additions, and men dictating what we can and can not do, but rather what the Scriptures say:

  1. Believe in me.
  2. Love one another, not through the Catholic church, Protestant church, Baptist church, etc.
  3. Through Jesus Christ alone.
  • Am I totally messed up in my thinking?
  • I know only God's knows the truth, but if the Bible is the truth, where does it state that only Catholics are saved?

Thanks so much for your time and attention to my long and somewhat unclear inquiry.

Tessie Moreno
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

  { Is the Catholic Church is the only way to salvation and how can you earn your salvation? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Tessie,

I would just encourage you to read the bank of answers on the site to all the different questions you have or search on a specific teaching: (AskACatholic.com/SiteSearch). You could also look up the issues in a Catholic Catechism. You will find that your understanding of Catholicism is false.

As for the Bible, the Catholic Church is the Church of the Bible. As a member of the Catholic Church, you heard four selections read from the Bible every time you went to Sunday Mass.
You heard three selections if you went to Mass during the weekdays. Your prayers came from
the Bible, as do the prayers of the Mass.

As for salvation, the Church does not believe that people in other religions cannot be saved. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The ordinary way to access Him is through His Church but whenever anyone finds Truth, they are finding Christ, whether they know it or not, and even the Truth they find is the reflection of God's law in their conscience.

As Christ said (and Protestants forget this), on the last day the people who didn't even know Christ will be let into the Kingdom because they served Him in the:

  • hungry
  • homeless
  • naked
  • imprisoned, and
  • sick.

Mary Ann

John replied:

Hi, Tessie

Just to add to Mary Ann's point. When Catholics talk about works, we are not talking about earning salvation rather we are saying:

That Works that justify with faith, are like faith: a response to grace.

Salvation is a complete work of Christ from beginning to end and somehow, man's free will
co-exists with the Sovereignty of God in a mysterious way we cannot fully comprehend.

Yes, salvation is an sovereign act of God, accessed by faith and at the same time we must cooperate with grace.

Nevertheless, in all things, we give glory to God, knowing that it is He that works in us.

It is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me.

Galatians 2:20

John DiMascio

Tessie replied:

Thank you all for your input, but I am still a little confused.

I had read something earlier this year, that the pope had re-released a document that addressed the topic of salvation. The document said it was only through the Catholic Church that people could be saved. Maybe I misread it. I tried to understand it other ways but still came up with the same conclusion.

My parents are still Catholic and many times are upset that I don't go to their parish, but quite frankly, all the Catholic parishes I was going to were not teaching me in a way that I could understand.

I have attended many other denominations and still found that the literature was way above my head. Until I was shown how to use and study the Bible, the words from the pulpit meant nothing. Maybe that is where my frustration comes from.

Many of us need something more than the readings. We need the everyday explanations. Granted, I have not been to a Catholic church in 15 years but I was going for 27 years before that.

  • So how does one receive a proper understanding of the Bible?
  • How do people rise above the pews and serve for our Lord?
  • How are they encouraged to study the Bible and understand what God wants for each and everyone of us?

I must say I have been to Catholic churches where the priests were Benedictine:— very staunch and proper, and Franciscan:— most approachable, where monks were serving others. That said, not once do I recall ever being taught about:

  • tithing
  • serving, or
  • loving God with all my heart, soul and mind.

Maybe it's just the way it was said or maybe it needed to be explained better so I could understand what I was suppose to do.

I know now that everything I do reflects His Love. Everything I think, say, or feel is a direct response to Him, My Lord whom I love, and who has changed my life unbelievably. I guess that is why I might seem a little down on the Catholic Church. I didn't get that support and understanding when I was there.

Even when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, no one could help them. They had no money to pay the bills, and when I called their church, they told me they could not help, but to call the local diocese. I did, and even sent an e-mail but no one even bothered to respond to either my call or e-mail.

My Protestant church did respond. People who did not even know my parents donated to help them while my parent's Catholic parish would not even make an effort. I pray that people learn to love people more than their time, money and themselves. That people learn that the only way is through Jesus Christ. I am sorry if my [questions/statements] have, in anyway, been harmful but I believe Jesus wanted us to question and find our faith. I question all the time, and I want very much to just work, live, and love, like Jesus.

Thanks so much for your time.

Tessie Moreno
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

Mike replied:

Hi Tessie,

I want to comment on a couple portions of your reply.

You said:
Since leaving the Catholic Church for a non-denominational Bible-based church, I have learned more in these last ten years than in my twenty plus years going to services at the Catholic Church.

That may be true. You may have learned more about the Bible and the Scriptures, but in order to correctly understand the passages in the Scriptures you have to hear them and understand them within the context of an Oral Tradition that has been passed down from Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. The only place where you can hear this is within the Church He founded on St. Peter and his successors.

20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

2 Peter 1:20-21

Otherwise, any devotee of the Scriptures can interpret any passage of the Bible, any way they wish.

One of the sad state of affairs in the Church today is that we do not catechize as well as we should. I'm probably a little younger then you, but I know I never received any solid catechesis from my local parish. During my CCD classes, they never mentioned the Early Church Fathers or told us what Catholic Apologetics was. I had some pretty good priests, but also some that weren't so good.

  • What did that mean Tess?

All it meant was due to the human frailty and weakness of bishops, priests and CCD teachers,
a better job could have been done. This doesn't take away from the historical reality that Jesus founded one Church on a man, St. Peter, and his successors and told him:

"Thou are Peter and upon this Peter, I will build my Church."
Remember Jesus probably spoke Aramaic, not Greek!

It was:

  • Not Mike Humphrey's church
  • not Tessie Moreno's church
  • not the-name-of-the-church-you-are-attending-now's church, but

God-Jesus' Church. Matthew 16:13-20; 1 Timothy 3:15

Historically, less then 75 years after Our Lord's Ascension into Heaven and the sending of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, St. Ignatius of Antioch is quoted in 107 A.D. as saying:

"See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it.

Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid."

To believe in a body of beliefs other then those the Catholic Church believes in, is to play personal pope. You see, Protestants believe in the papacy — their own papacy.

  • They decide how to interpret Scripture
  • they decide what body of beliefs are divine and which are not

Practicing Catholics hold on only to the body of beliefs that Jesus taught and passed on to future generations through the Church. This passing on of His teaching to future generations is known as Tradition. (2 Thessalonians 2:15) The Church through Her Teaching Authority, (also called the Magisterium), safeguards, defends, and, when necessary, clarifies Christian teachings.

When there is a new discovery or break-through, Our Lord, through the Holy Spirit in the Church, guides the faithful to discern what is moral and what is immoral.

Example:

  • Adult Stem Cell research: Good
  • In vitro fertilization: Bad

These terms (Adult Stem Cell or In vitro fertilization) would not have been in use back in
Our Lord's time.

Kudos to both Mary Ann's and John's replies. They are right on, especially Mary Ann's. There are many questions and answers in our knowledge base here, that we have answered in the last 12 plus years. If you use our search engine and read some of the answers, I think you will find it very helpful.

You said:
I find it hard to accept that just because of a difference in interpretation, one denomination would [fight and] judge another as not being part of their denomination and therefore un-savable.

This is a common misperception. The Catholic Church is not a denomination. A denomination is a congregation that is part of all Christendom. What each denomination believes will vary from Christian denomination to Christian denomination. Because Jesus alone founded the Catholic Church, His Church contains all the truths He wants men and women of good will to accept and embrace. Catholicism consists of all the beliefs Christendom has which are true. The word Catholic not only mean universal, it also means it is the faith according to its totality — meaning faithful Catholics don't pick and choose teachings. Sure they may struggle with understanding some teachings or even obeying some teachings. That only says one thing: they are human! The key is being faithful even when one has doubts or temptations.

You said:
I had read something earlier this year, that the pope had re-released a document that addressed the topic of salvation. The document said it was only through the Catholic Church that people could be saved.

You are correct and the Pope is correct.

The Roman Catholic Church is the one True Church Jesus established as the sole means for our salvation.

There are not a ca-zillion Jesus's but one Faith, one Lord and one Baptism. (Ephesians 4:5)

That is just History 101.

Nevertheless, the question can be asked:

Does God bring a person into existence as a Methodist, Baptist, or Lutheran, just
to damn them? <No, of course not!>

  • Well, if the Catholic Church is the sole means of salvation, why not bring everyone into existence as a Catholic?

To pull a greater good out of it and while respecting the free will every person has.

This last part is something your parents should respect. If they are hounding you to do this, or do that, they are not respecting your free will. St. Francis tells us:

Evangelize the world, and when necessary, use words.

If your parents are the overbearing type, they should just be holy, silent, and prayerful witnesses while respecting your free will to seek and share.

The Catechism does a very good job of explaining the Church's teaching No Salvation Outside the Church in all situations, so I'm going to quote the whole section here.

To be fair to the truth...and to yourself..., read each statement from CCC 846 - 848 completely without rushing:

"Outside the Church there is no salvation"

846

  • How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?
Re-formulated 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.

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.

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."

Mission - a requirement of the Church's catholicity

849 The missionary mandate. "Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men": "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age."

850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord's missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: "The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit." The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.

851 Missionary motivation.
It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, "for the love of Christ urges us on." Indeed, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"; that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.

852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, "the principal agent of the whole of the Church's mission." It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. "This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection." So it is that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."

853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the "discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted." Only by taking the "way of penance and renewal," the "narrow way of the cross," can the People of God extend Christ's reign. For "just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men."

854 By her very mission, "the Church . . . travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world: she is to be a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God." Missionary endeavor requires patience. It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ, continues with the establishment of Christian communities that are "a sign of God's presence in the world," and leads to the foundation of local churches. It must involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each people's culture. There will be times of defeat. "With regard to individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that [the Church] touches and penetrates them and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic."

855 The Church's mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity. Indeed, "divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects."

856 The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel. Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better "those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God." They proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from error and evil "for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man."

So if a Protestant is saved, it is through the Catholic Church, despite what disagreements [he/she] had with the Church on doctrine or teachings.

On your current faith journey, it is important for you to separate Church Teachings from Church teachers:

Church Teachings have always been, and always will be, protected from error by the Holy Spirit. This isn't necessarily the case with teachers who teach CCD, though I'm sure there are many who do a fine job. Any bad Judas-type behavior by any CCD instructor you may have encountered are not a reflection of the Church's Teaching; it is instead, a manifestation of men and women's fall from grace.

Protestant Bible Study Warning:

I used to attend Protestant Bible Studies for a while because I wanted to bring them the fullness of the Faith they were missing. Later, a good friend of mine reminded me that although I had a good intention, there is always an underlining assumption with any Protestant church service [and/or] Bible Study and that is:

The Catholic Church is wrong, and their teachings are incorrect.

This is despite the fact that this false assumption is never challenged in any Protestant Bible Study. When a Catholic attends a Protestant Bible Study they are implicitly saying:

There is something missing from my parish that I hope you can fulfill.

If this is the case with any Catholic reading this posting, they should consider starting a Catholic Bible Study in their own parish.

Remember Tess, when you attend a Protestant Bible Study or a Protestant church service, you may feel more:

  • challenged (because you learn more)
  • accepted (because the environment is friendly)
  • content (because the group is active)

Nevertheless, a person can discern the truth only when [he/she] uses a properly informed intellect... not by relying on feelings no matter how strong they might be.

Just because I might feel it is OK to have sex outside marriage, doesn't mean it is okay!

Imagine if I were to feel it is okay to take your dinner away and eat it myself.

God has divinely instilled in both men and women two strong desires in this life:

  • eating and drinking, so we can sustain ourselves and
  • sexual activity with a member of the opposite sex: so society can grow past a solid level of stability and multiply more, as he told Adam and Eve in the Garden.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that both these desires are good (very good and divinely implanted), however man must not seek to fulfill these desires outside God's plan and this requires that man use a properly informed intellect.

Man is not just an animal. [He/she] is a creature with an immortal soul meant for Heaven.
The only reason it may sometimes appear that man is simply an animal — at least in this culture — is because many men and women have improperly formed intellects.

Non-human animals have the same natural desire to eat and procreate, but they don't have immortal souls. There are no animals in Heaven. They have mortal souls with a life principle that is intended to serve us in this earthly life only. If you want more of what I have said in the last two paragraphs, check out the Christian basics portion of my site:

The Life of the Soul

Finally, a knowledge of Church history and the Early Church Fathers will lead you to the truth.

Seeing you love the Scriptures, as we all should, you may be interested in my Scripture Passages web page:

http://www.AskACatholic.com/ScripturePassages

Hope this helps, sorry if I rambled.

Mike

Tessie replied:

Hi guys,

Thank you all for your opinions but I read the passage you gave me from Matthew entirely differently.

The rock Jesus is speaking of is Simon's (Peter's) reply, not on him directly. I believe you can confirmed this fact in 1 Timothy. It is the Living God, Jesus we build our faith and Church on — not an Apostle, or pope, or tradition. It says over and over in the Bible, it is faith, it is Jesus.
I cannot find where is says anything about worshipping, praising, or following anyone or anything other than Him.

I am sorry for my ignorance and I know I may sound argumentative but it is not at all my intent.
I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit that my salvation lies only in Him — Him who died for my sins and will save me by faith and no one, other than the Holy Spirit, will be able to change that.

Someday I pray that there will be no lines between faiths — that all who follow Jesus faithfully are one day joined together as one, no matter the name of the building or denomination they attend for:

  • one purpose
  • one God
  • one Savior:
    Our Lord, Jesus Christ

You all have a very nice day and God bless each and everyone of you.

Tessie
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

John replied:

Tessie,

Please answer these questions for yourself.

  • Where in the Bible does it say that the Bible is the sole rule of faith?
  • Where in the Bible does it say which books belong in the Bible and which ones should not be there?

The table of contents in your Bible is not inspired Scripture.

That said, if no book in the Bible gives you a complete list of books that belong in the Bible, you must trust the authority that gave you the list of books, if you are going to trust the Bible at all.

It is an historical fact that the Catholic Church at the councils of Hippo and Carthage in the late 4th to early 5th century canonized the Scriptures.

It was the Church that discerned by the power of the Holy Spirit there that are four inspired Gospels:

  1. Matthew
  2. Mark
  3. Luke, and
  4. John.

It was the Church that determined the Gospel according to Thomas was heresy. It was the Church that also excluded the epistle of Barnabas and other books, but included the epistles of Paul, John, Peter, and James.

All these books were scrutinized in light of the Oral Tradition that was handed down from the first generation of Apostles to the next.

Hope to hear back from you,

John

Tessie replied:

Hi John,

  • But aren't our teachings all about the Bible?
  • Isn't that where Catholics even started?

I thought we started with the Bible and the Church evolved from there.

  • Where in the Bible does it say you must be Catholic?
  • Doesn't it say you must believe in me and trust in me?

I understand that the Catholics were the first and only church ... I do, but the Catholic Church has changed over the years.

  • Isn't it possible that Martin Luther was also a teacher of God and his ideals were to bring focus back to the way the Church originally was?

I do know how the Bible came about. I know that is was the Catholics, the only Christians of that time, that gave us this great book, but like all men, I also realize that many of those men:

  • made mistakes
  • misused their authority, and
  • maybe took some things too far.

I know that all men make those mistakes — no one is perfect. No one.

  • So again, isn't it based on faith that you believe?
  • How do you know that you are correct in believing that salvation is only through Catholicism?

Probably the same way I know that I will be in Heaven someday: Faith, trusting in what God breathed in each and every line, word, and phrase in that most Holy Book.

  • All men are sinners, all men make mistakes, for if they didn't, they would be perfect and then why would they need God in the first place?

Because the Bible has been around for so long, with so little change in the message I will always believe it to be truth. Until someone can prove it wrong there is no reason to even challenge its message, in my eyes.

I appreciate all your information and responses but it appears you cannot seem to understand what I believe and I cannot understand what you believe. My God is a God of Love, who has a nasty temper occasionally — maybe more than occasionally in the past, but I know that He loves me, and that His Son died for me, and I will be with Him someday. And I believe all this based on my faith and how God lives in my life each day.

Thanks again,

Tessie
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

John replied:

Tessie,

If you really want to know and understand what we believe, I suggest you start doing some reading.

I would start with a couple books:

If you can't find a copy, we'll try and get you one.

It systematically goes through the history of the Bible but more importantly, Jesus said,

"I'm going to build My Church."; He didn't say, "I'm going to publish My Book."

The Church He founded on Peter and the Apostles gave us the Bible, not the other way around.

I also suggest you read the early Church Fathers. These men were one or two generations away from the original Twelve Apostles. They studied either directly under them or directly under one of their disciples. As you read their understanding of Scripture you will begin to understand the nature of the Church.

When the Church says: Outside the Church there is no salvation, it must be understood in the context of the entire body of Church Teaching.

It is not the same thing as saying, There is no salvation outside the Church.

What it means is: if it were not for the Catholic Church, which is the Body of Christ, salvation would not be open to anyone.

And on the most elementary level you've admitted that already without knowing it. You came to Christ as a result of the Scriptures, the Scriptures were handed down and kept safe by the Catholic Church, therefore were it not for the Church, you would not have been saved.

You cannot separate Christ from the Church. They are one and the same. While the Church is also human and capable of abuses of power, the Holy Spirit protects the Church from teaching error in its official teaching. Were that not the case, you would not be able to trust the Bible.

Regarding the issue of salvation: The book of Revelation says:

Salvation belongs to our God, who sits upon the Throne.

Revelation 7:10

Alongside the Church's teaching Outside the Church there is no salvation, the Church has always said that God is not limited to the same limitations He puts on His Church. God can save:

  • whom He pleases
  • when pleases, and
  • how He pleases.

That salvation was purchased by the complete work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. As members of His Body, we participate in the work of salvation, by:

  • preaching the Gospel
  • prayer, and
  • responding to the grace given to us.

In that sense we are co-redeemers in Christ.

Those who, through not fault of their own:

  • do not know Christ
  • have never heard and understood the fullness of the Gospel, or
  • have never understood the necessity of being a Catholic

can be saved by God and by virtue of the existence of His Church which intercedes on their behalf.

A Muslim for instance, may be saved but not because he followed Islam rather, it's because Christ died for him and because that Muslim, during his life, responded to whatever grace God made available to him.

John

Mike replied:

Hi Tessie,

Due to a difference in our Biblical interpretations of key Bible passages like Matthew 16:13-20 and 1 Timothy 3:15, I'm not sure we are going to make any progress. This goes back to:

  • Authority.
  • My point that in all of Christendom, we have as many popes as we have Protestants who interpret the Bible differently.
I would suggest that you consider going back to the what the very first Christians orally taught and wrote. I would recommend a three volume set by William Jurgens called Faith of the Early Fathers. You can get one here. There are a list of other books on the Early Church Fathers on my other web site: BibleBeltCatholics.com.

It costs a few pennies, but you will be shocked at how Catholic, the very first Christians were and what they believed. <Because they were Catholic in the sense that they believed in the totality of the faith!>

  • There are Protestant versions of the Early Church Fathers, but they obviously are not going to be a source for quoting unmistakably Catholic teachings.
  • There are also Protestant web sites dedicated to the Early Church Fathers, but again, they are obviously not going to be a source for unmistakably Catholic teachings.

Going back to John's point: unless you show us where in the Bible it states the Bible is the sole rule of faith, I would consider taking a different, non-biblical approach to the Christian faith by seeing what the very first Christians taught and how they worshiped.

In some of your previous replies you have made certain comments that lead me to think you have some major misperceptions about what the Church believes.

Catholics do not worship:

Mary
We honor her and ask her to pray with us and for us to Jesus.
the Pope
We listen to the successor of St. Peter whom Jesus has put in charge of safeguarding and protecting His Divine teachings
idols or statues, or
We use statues to bring into our minds, the people in Heaven whom we are asking to pray with us and who want to pray for us to God.
Saints
We pray to the saints because God wants us to.

There isn't a family fight in Heaven for our prayers.
We worship God Alone in the Divine Person of Our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ!

If you were taught anything else when you were Catholic, you had a terrible Catholic teacher.

The Holy Bible is a Catholic book. It was written by Catholics and their ancestors, for Catholics, for use in the Catholic Mass.

  • Is there an invisible church of all believers?

Matthew 18:15-17 states:

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

The Church can't be an invisible church, otherwise the Christians in this portion of the Bible would not know where to go to tell it to the Church. — unless someone knows how to go to an invisible building. : ) Also remember there were other physical places people could have gone like to the Gnostics, the Arians, the Nestorians, and others!

In a very good piece James Akin wrote on the term "Catholic" he stated:

The attempt by non-Catholics to claim catholic for themselves is not new. Heretics and schismatics in the fourth century tried to claim the term, yet their attempts proved unsuccessful. In 397 A.D. St. Augustine pointed this out using an illustration from everyday life:

"[T]he very name of Catholic . . . belongs to this Church alone . . . so much so that, although all heretics want to be called catholic, when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house."

Against the Letter of Mani Called `The Foundation' 4:5.

You said:
How is what I learned in Catholic Church different from the above?

  • e.g. Tradition and the Pope over the Scriptures?

It sounds like you have been listening to Protestant theology.

My question to you is:

  • If a person is interested in what a Methodist believes, does he go to a Baptist?
  • If a person is interested in what a Baptist believes, does he go to a Quaker?
  • If a person is interested in what a Church of Christ member believes, does he go to a Pentecostal?
  • If a person is interested in what a Catholic believes, does he go to an uncatechized Catholic or one who dissents from the teachings of the Church by [his/her] behaviors [and/or] actions?

  • What's my point?
  • How does a person who was born a Protestant or was raised as an uncatechized, fallen away Catholic know what the Catholic Church really teaches?

They can't!

If you are interested in what Catholics really believe, go to faithful, practicing Catholics.

I use to run a free program that sent Catechisms to seeking Protestants and non-Christians but no longer have the financial or operational means to do this anymore. Nevertheless, if you wish to go deeper, consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn everything we believe as Catholics.

If you, or any visitor, has been helped by our work at AskACatholic.com, consider financially supporting us today.

Take care,

Mike

John replied:

Hi, Tessie,

One more clarifying point. I think Mike's answer is classic example of a language issue that can lead to a misunderstanding of what we believe.

When Catholics say they are praying to a saint, it would be better put by saying, We are asking the Saint to pray for us and with us, much like we would ask a living member of the Church to pray for us. None of this detracts from the single Mediatorship of Jesus Christ. In fact, everywhere in Scripture where Christ is called the one Mediator, the verse [and/or] surrounding verses also mention:

  • the Church
  • the Body of Christ, or
  • the Saints.

I would refer you to Hebrew 12:

"Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses."

Hebrews 12:1

This verse from Hebrews refers back to Hebrews 11 which lists all those who died in faith.

Reading on in Chapter 12, around the 20th verse we see Christian worship on earth being linked to the worship in Heaven, including the spirits of just men made perfect. This is an obvious reference to the saints who have gone on before us.

In Revelation 5:8, we see the 24 elders, holding up bowls of incense which are the prayers of the saints. The Church has always understood that 24 elders represent the Old Testament and New Testament Church and that those in Heaven hold up our prayers before the Lord.

Another good book for you to read on this subject is by Patrick Madrid:

Any Friend of God's Is a Friend of Mine: A Biblical and Historical Explanation of the Catholic Doctrine of the Communion of Saints by Patrick Madrid

I asked all the same questions you did Tessie. Like you, I left the Church and actually went into the ministry, but it was the Bible, itself, that eventually brought me back to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

God Bless and good luck in your faith journey.

Under His Mercy,

John

Tessie replied:

Hi Mike,
Hi John,

I still do not understand some of what you are saying.

  • If a Muslim can be saved, are you saying anyone can? ... that It's God's decision?

I sense I didn't receive as good a Catholic education as I could have. I attended Catholic schools for eight years and attended Church services for 27 years. I guess I just didn't get out of it what you are saying, and it's not that I just went to one parish, I went to many.

I would be willing to read anything you send me. I am not so quick to judge that I am not open to whatever someone would like to share. So yes, I would read whatever you send to me. My entire family is practicing the Catholic faith and that is where I get most of my ideas of what it stands for. Which also brings me back to the question:

  • Where did they get these ideas?

We were taught to pray:

  • to St. Jude
  • to Saint Peter
  • to Saint Paul
  • etc.

They never asked them for their prayers. I guess that could be a misunderstanding from previous generations. Again, like you said, maybe I had some bad teachers.

I do believe that Catholics will be saved, or at least those whom the Lord determines so, not because they are Catholic, but because their heart and His Mercy deems it. I do believe they were the first, so rather than going back and forth over all of this, please, please send me whatever you have.

My church does not bash Catholics. As a matter of fact, they have teamed up with our local Catholic parish and others in our community to bring people to Christ and teach about Him.

  • If we can do this, why can others around the world follow?

Tessie
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

John replied:

Hi, Tess

You said:

  • If a Muslim can be saved, are you saying anyone can? ... that It's God's decision?

Short answer:

Yes, God can save whomever he wants, but that salvation was still purchased by Christ and is an act of grace. So salvation is open to all.

Longer Answer:

Every man has a responsibility to follow the light that God shows him, continue to seek the truth, and form his conscience according to the truth he's been exposed to. So if a man:

  • does not hear the Gospel
  • misunderstands it, or
  • has some kind of invincible ignorance

then God, who is merciful, will hold him accountable according to his knowledge.

See Matthew 25 the sheep and goats. Some will be saved having served the Lord not knowing who He is.

Conversely, if someone hears the Gospel, understands and rejects it for reasons of convenience, then that man is danger of Hell. And once again, it's not up to me or you or anyone else to say who is in Hell. — that's God's business.

We are charged to preach the Gospel.

Finally, if a Protestant or other Christian comes to believe the Catholic Church is the one, true Church and refuses to come into full communion with the Church then he, too, will be held accountable according to light God has shown him.

I had to make that choice.

I could have either continued as preacher, preaching part of the truth and would have remained fairly comfortable making a career doing it, but when I was finally confronted by the truth, I had to make a choice.

Knowing what I knew, had I chosen to ignore the truth, I would have had to answer to God for it.

John

Tessie replied:

Hi, guys —

  • I didn't find a story about sheep and goats in Matthew 25?

Thanks again.

I will not rest until I find some sort of Truth.

I went to the web link page that was provided in the e-mail you replied to and it went to a web site where there was a series of books for $48.50. It was Faith of the Early Fathers that Mike sent to me.

For now I just purchased the two John suggested I read.

Thanks so much!

Tessie
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

John replied:

Here it is Tessie,

Pay attention to verse 37, these folks obviously didn't know who Jesus was or weren't Christians because every Christian knows that when they feed the hungry, they are feeding Jesus.

31 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand,

'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.

' 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying,

'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

40 "And the King will answer and say to them,

'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' 44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' 45 "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' 46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."


Matthew 25:31-46

John

Mary Ann replied:

Tessie,

I am truly sorry that you were not taught in a way you could understand. That has been a failing in the Church in North America for a long time. In almost every parish, you will find Bible study classes. In addition, you can go to many Catholic web sites and book stores and get a good commentary on the Bible.

As for what the Pope said earlier: he restated Catholic teaching: the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Christ. Christ wanted his word passed down orally, as it says in the New Testament, and the gift of the Spirit passed on by the laying on of hands, and the gifts of his deeds passed on as the sacraments through this passing on of the Spirit.

Only the Catholic Church has these elements of the living words and deeds of Christ from the founder and in union with the successor Peter, upon whom the Church was founded.

If you read what Benedict says, he says that the means of salvation and grace are not completely lacking in other Christian communities, because the Spirit acts in them, and they have faith, Scripture, and usually Baptism. He said:

"The Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them."

He went on to say that:

"these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation."

Many Protestant Churches believe non-Christians cannot be saved and some believe Catholics cannot be saved! All Benedict was saying was that the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ. I presume most Protestants believe their community is the true church.

If they don't, they should leave!

As for praying to, yes, we ask them to pray for us, but - in English, the word pray means to ask. The meaning is preserved in the old saying, Pray tell.

In English, we do say we can pray to anybody, because it only means to make a request of them. We are asking them to pray for us.

Mary Ann

John replied:

Tessie,

Mary Ann is correct, it is proper English.

That said, St. Paul is a good example.

  • When speaking to the Jews he argued from the Scriptures.
  • When speaking to the Greeks on Mars hill, he spoke to them from their own experience.

Hence, in conveying our point we must dialogue in a manner that our Protestant brothers and sisters can understand and digest.

There is no sense in putting up linguistic road blocks when it's not necessary.

The terminology we use in an apologetic argument can immediately trigger preconceived notions and misunderstanding. Therefore it behooves us, as apologists, to be careful in the words we use and the tacts we take.

John

Mike replied:

Hi, guys —

  • Can I still pray to St. Joseph? : )

Mike

John replied:

Yes Mike, you can.

But my point is important. When you ask me to pray for you, you don't say,

I prayed to John DiMascio.

You say,

I asked John for his prayers.

When dealing with non-Catholics who are predisposed to reject praying to saints and who view it as a idolatry, the first thing we should be doing is diffusing their objection. You don't do that by using terminology that only reinforces their misconception.

You do the opposite. You even have to down play the veneration aspect of praying to saints until they have enough information to be able to understand it. They will never get that information if we keep putting up road blocks without answers.

John

Tessie replied:

Thanks!

I do understand the language issue as you explained it.

I have a small correct from what I previously said. The only books I bought where those John recommended to me:

Tessie
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

Mike replied:

Hi Tessie,

I would encourage you to get a copy of the 3-Volume set on the Early Church Fathers by Jurgens but if John has some recommended reading, I would start there rather than get bogged down with other books you are not going to read at this time.

$48.50 may seem like a lot of money for a 3-Volume set on the Church Fathers, but it is well worth the purchase for what you will be getting out of it.

Your family members should respect your free will and your discernment of what is from God and what is not.

Too many good-hearted family members approach things in an incorrect manner, because they don't respect a family member's free will.

  • It is not Dad's free will
  • it's not Mom's free will
  • it's not even God's free will, but
  • Tessie Moreno's own free will!!

Get back to me soon, either way as to whether you would read the Early Church Fathers or not.

Mike

Tessie replied:

Hi Mike,

Thank-you for doing what you are doing. Being raised in a Catholic family, I was always taught that unless you are Catholic you would not be saved. This again was the way I understood it and the way my family understood it.

Now that I am not a practicing Catholic, I have found a church that believes Catholics are Christian and that the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. This is what they teach. We actually just had a series of services on the differences between Catholics and Protestants, and to me, it seemed that the differences involved no foundational truths. Both believe in:

  • being baptized
  • Accepting the Trinity
  • that Jesus died for our sins
  • that Jesus rose for the dead
  • etc.

I have heard from both sides, much like John has experienced — hearing that one side is wrong or the other side is wrong. Quite frankly, I am torn between the two, due to their passions. I believe that both sides have merit and that if the two were to sit down and really figure out what the fight was about, maybe the two could once again become one. I am not sure that there really is anything to fight about.

  • Don't we all want the same thing for everyone?

Tessie
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

Mary Ann replied:

Tessie,

You seem to be honestly seeking God's will.

  • Why don't you buy a Catechism and read it, and that way you will know what the Catholic Church teaches, has always taught, and will always teach?
  • Did you know that the Lutherans and the Catholics came to an agreement [EWTN] about salvation just a few years ago?

So many misunderstandings abound, just for lack of understanding each others [words|terms].

I wish you well. May God bless you.

— Mary Ann

Tessie replied:

Hi, Mary Ann —

I knew they separated from each other, but not that they came back together.

I find it sad that everyone wants the same result, but that so many people argue over things
I don't believe Jesus would want us to argue over.

I think He wants us:

  • to love
  • Stand firm on the essentials, and
  • teach what He wanted for each of us to believe

He wants a Party/Reunion with our maker. He wants us to be saved!

Thanks,

Tessie
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

Mike replied:

Tessie,

I plan to send you a few other Catholic books to help you better understand the Catholic point of view on these issues.

Mike

Mary Ann replied:

Hi John,

I just wanted to pitch in two cents more to your reply to Mike.

I think we should make our apologetic for our use of the words pray to, an explanation.
We just have to explain what we really mean.

Protestants think when we pray to Mary or the Saints it means that we are worshipping other people.

We should clarify that we are not worshipping, only talking to and asking them, much as they would when they visit a grave site of a love one or departed parent.

This analogy might help their understanding.

Mary Ann

Tessie replied:

Thanks!

I will read whatever you send me. I happen to be in a place in my life where the more information I get about developing my faith, and not the faith of others, the better. I would appreciate anything and will definitely pray before and after everything I read in hopes God will guide me where He wants me to be, and not where someone wants me to be.

God has changed my life so immensely, I can not even tell you the stories, for it would take too long. I know He has blessed me each and every day and I will continue to do His will no matter where it takes me.

Thanks so much!

Tessie
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

John replied:

Hi Tessie,

I understand your frustration.

  • Like you, I used to talk about agreeing on the essentials but who decides what the essentials of Christianity are?

For the early Church, the essential truth, revolved around who Jesus is. Later, the Church had to deal with heresies about the nature of the Trinity.

The issue of salvation was not challenged for 1,500 years. The Church, even the Orthodox churches that went into schism, understood that justification came by grace through faith and was complemented by good works.

It was not until Luther misread Romans that this issue came up. That said, for four centuries a bunch of Protestant denominations and their offsprings have been dumbing down Christianity to what they call the essentials.

In a previous post, you said man was justified by faith alone.

Well Tessie, that is found nowhere in Bible. In Romans 3:28 it says we are justified by faith apart from works of the law. The word alone is not in that verse. In the context of Romans, Paul is talking about the Mosaic Law, i.e.: the temple sacrifices and circumcision. He's not talking about works done in faith and induced by grace.

Elsewhere Paul makes it clear. In Ephesians 2:8-10, Grace, Faith, and Works are all one package. James specifically says we are not justified by faith alone.

Now that does not mean that in substance we necessarily disagree on salvation. What it does mean is that Protestantism is built on a limited understanding of what salvation and justification are.

Luther argued that when we are justified, we are not changed, but that Christ simply declares us justified. He went so far as to say, that we still remain like dung, but Christ just covers us up with snow.

The historical Christian position before Luther was that when Christ declares us righteous.
He actually makes us righteous. He transforms us. This is a process but by the time we get to Heaven, Christ will purify us if we cooperate and this is in line with the Scriptures. Isaiah says God's word will not return void but will accomplish what it was set forth to do. Hence, when God declare us righteous, He makes us so.

So you have to ask yourself:

If Luther, who started the Protestant Rebellion, was wrong about his two-pillar position:

  1. Faith Alone, and
  2. Scripture Alone
  • By what authority can these denominations or sects define the essentials of Christianity?

The essentials of Christianity are defined by the Church Jesus Christ founded on Peter and the Apostles. Even the Orthodox Churches substantially agree on these fundamentals. All the Churches that can trace their lineage to the Apostles:

  • share the same seven sacraments
  • acknowledge the Communion of Saints
  • understand that if God does not complete his work in believers in this life, the believers face purification in the next (some form of Purgatory), and
  • all of them understand that the Bible alone cannot be the sole rule of faith, because it was the Catholic Church that gave us the Bible.

I'll give you one more reading suggestion. See if you can't pick up a Greek Orthodox Study Bible. While the notes are not entirely consistent with Catholicism, clearly you will see that historic Christianity shares a very different set of essentials compared with that found in Protestantism.

In my journey back to the Church, I found it helpful to get a third opinion. I looked into Orthodoxy.

What I found was that, aside from a belief that Pope had jurisdiction over the entire Church,
the doctrines were essentially and substantially the same. Further I found that the disagreement over the Pope's role boiled down to politics and national pride.

I think you will find the Orthodox Study Bible, very helpful in understanding the sacraments and the role they play in our salvation. The Orthodox also have a different way of expressing the same truths we express in the Roman Church.

I think by reading that expression you might get a better picture.

John

Tessie replied:

Once again thanks John!

I will see if I can get an Orthodox Study Bible.

You have been of much help to me.

Tessie
Let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault.

Romans 14:19

Mary Ann replied:

Tessie —

I think you're right.

I recommended the Catechism but my intention was simply to direct you to Catholic sources for Catholic teaching. It is sad that these days you can't trust the book just because it says Catholic, so rather than give you a reading list, I just suggested the Catechism.

If you guys know good books, like Shea's,   Hahn's, or Keating's please recommend them.

Mary Ann
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