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Lon Grassman, Ph.D. wrote:

Dear All:

(Mike, Richard, Mary Ann, Eric and John)

First of all, thank you all for your answers to date; you have been very helpful to me as I explore the possibility of coming home. Mike, thanks also for the heavy copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church you sent me! I know that all of my questions are in there somewhere. I look forward to exploring it.

I have a few, random questions that I would appreciate your feedback on:

  • Do Catholics accept that anyone who professes Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior
    is saved (i.e., Heaven-bound)?

I have Church of Christ and Baptist friends who espouse that they don't need to pray to Saints to talk with God. They go directly to Jesus through prayer. This is a good point.

  • Can you explain why Catholics pray to Saints?
  • Jesus is held above Saints, correct?
  • Why do Episcopalians allow young children to receive communion but Catholics do not?
  • How is the use of birth-control reconciled in Catholicism?

Looking through the Book of Prayer I see that Episcopalians do not believe in Purgatory.

  • Why do Catholics believe in it and is there a citation in the Bible that would explain it?
  • What other major differences are there between Episcopalians and Catholics besides:
    • priests can marry and
    • they do not believe in transubstantiation?
  • How much of Catholicism belief and direction is based on the Bible and how much comes from central controls, e.g., the Pope, Cardinals, etc.?

Thanks again,

Lon

  { How does a seeking Episcopalian reply to these Church of Christ and Baptist questions? }

Eric replied:

Hi Lonnie,

You said:
I have a few, random questions that I would appreciate your feedback on:

  • Do Catholics accept that anyone who professes Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is saved (i.e., Heaven-bound)?

In general Catholicism does not affirm with absolute certainty that anyone is saved, even Catholics. If you are baptized and die in the friendship of God, that is, not having knowingly and deliberately committed any grave sins, that you did not either repent of, motivated out of love for God (as opposed to fear of Hell), or else repented of and took the sin to sacramental Confession, then you are saved. It is possible for someone who professes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to commit sins afterwards which would exclude them from Heaven, so those would not be saved absent adequate repentance. Also, if you know that the Catholic Church was founded by God as necessary for salvation but refuse to either enter into, or stay in, it you cannot be saved. In general, we do not believe that non-Catholics cannot be saved, only that it is much more difficult for them to be saved. Forgive me for sounding a bit contradictory but I can't do it justice here; do a search on our site for "no salvation outside" (Exact Phrase) for some other articles.

You said:
I have Church of Christ and Baptist friends who espouse that they don't need to pray to Saints to talk with God. They go directly to Jesus through prayer. This is a good point.

  • Can you explain why Catholics pray to Saints?
  • Jesus is held above Saints, correct?

This is also covered in our archives. Briefly, yes, of course, Jesus is above the saints, and yes, we can go directly to Jesus, but just as you ask your friends to pray to you in addition to praying for Jesus, so we ask the saints in Heaven to pray for us in addition to praying to Jesus, for the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16), and the saints are perfected in righteousness (Hebrews 12:23).

When we pray to saints, by the way, what we are doing is merely asking them to pray for us to God. That's it! They don't have their own power. They are merely intercessors. The word in Latin for pray is the same as the word to ask. In English, people tend to think it implies worship but in Latin this is not so and it is not the way we Catholics use it.

See this posting:

You said:

  • Why do Episcopalians allow young children to receive communion but Catholics do not?

Eastern Rite Catholics do. The rationale behind doing this in the Roman Rite is they want the children to be able to distinguish the Host from ordinary bread so that they appreciate that it is sacred and the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.

You said:

  • How is the use of birth-control reconciled in Catholicism?

It isn't, I'm not sure I understand your question?

Artificial birth control is forbidden in Catholicism. It is permissible to make strategic use of abstinence to avoid pregnancy. This is because it works naturally with the body and not against it. For that reason, it [abstinence] is permissible.

You said:
Looking through the Book of Prayer I see that Episcopalians do not believe in Purgatory.

  • Why do Catholics believe in it and is there a citation in the Bible that would explain it?

Check our archives, search for Purgatory.

You said:

  • What other major differences are there between Episcopalians and Catholics besides:
    • priests can marry and
    • they do not believe in transubstantiation?

Married priests are allowed in the Catholic Church, as well, under limited conditions, (Lutheran and Episcopalian converts, and in the Eastern Rite in those areas), although priests and deacons already ordained are not allowed to be married, as this would present a pastoral problem of clergy dating lay people.

Explaining the differences between Episcopalianism and Catholicism would be too difficult as Episcopalianism is all over the map doctrinally. There is little agreement or consistency over doctrine.

  • Some Episcopalians are virtually identical to Catholics.
  • Some Episcopalians are nearly identical to Evangelicals.
  • Some Episcopalians are nearly identical to Unitarians.

It all depends on where you're coming from.

You said:

  • How much of Catholicism belief and direction is based on the Bible and how much comes from central controls, e.g., the Pope, Cardinals, etc.?

Catholic belief doesn't come from the Pope and Cardinals. It comes from Scripture and Apostolic Tradition. Everything we believe to be true we believe to be revealed by Christ to the Apostles in the first century.

The role of the bishops (among which includes the Pope) is merely to protect that Tradition and faithfully guard it. See:

Direction on a day to day (or more likely, century to century) basis does come chiefly from the Pope and, to a lesser extent, the bishops, based on the principles of Scripture and Apostolic Tradition.

Eric

John replied:

Hi Lonnie,

Just to quickly add to what Eric has said on the question of salvation.

Protestants view salvation as static and forensic. That is, at a certain point and time, a person exercises saving faith at which point they are forensically justified. God imputes Christ's righteousness to the believer and covers his or sins. Hence, justification and salvation is not contingent on any further cooperation with grace on the part of the individual.

Luther put it this way:

Each person is like a pile of dung and God simply covers it with snow.

Catholics (and Orthodox Christians) believe that salvation is dynamic and intrinsic. When we are justified, the righteousness of Christ is not simply imputed but infused, hence, it is up to the Christian to live out his faith by grace.

Faith is, what faith does or as James put it, faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) If faith is simply a mental assent to the proposition that Jesus Christ died for our sins, then it is not saving faith. The infused righteousness of Christ must be manifest in our lives by our free will response to grace.

Catholics would say that salvation is a sovereign and complete act of God from beginning to end which requires our free will cooperating with His grace every step of the way.

While Protestants strictly view and use a juridical model to understand justification, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox also understand that salvation is not simply a legal action. It is Divine Sonship. As such, a child of God, must mature to receive his inheritance.

Salvation, at its core, is nothing short of participating in the Divine Life of God. It is a process which is initiated and continues by grace alone through faith but faith must be more then simple mental assent, because faith and obedience are two sides of the same coin.

John

Lonnie replied:


Thanks Eric for your excellent responses. Thanks for yours too John.

  • My birth control question has to do with the fact that since so many Catholics practice artificial birth control, not just the rhythm method, how is this treated?

I understand that it is a mortal sin.

  • How then can Catholics who practice birth control feel good about their decision?
  • Can they beg forgiveness once they are beyond the age of reproduction?

This would seem too convenient.

Thanks,

Lon

Eric replied:

Thank-you for the kind reply Lonnie.

You said:

  • My birth control question has to do with the fact that since so many Catholics practice artificial birth control, not just the rhythm method, how is this treated?

I understand that it is a mortal sin.

  • How then can Catholics who practice birth control feel good about their decision?

First of all, a clarification: There are more options to a Catholic than just the rhythm method. Techniques known as NFP, Natural Family Planning, rely on bodily indicators rather than the calendar to determine fertility and they are very effective.

To your question: Catholics who practice birth control feel good about their decision because they have rationalized their decision and do not accept everything the Church proclaims as revealed by Christ.

They are conformed to this age more than they are conformed to Christ as revealed by the Church. They feel good, perhaps, because it gives them the license to have sex as much as they like, without the annoyance of unwanted human beings. That's my opinion.

You said:

  • Can they beg forgiveness once they are beyond the age of reproduction?

This would seem too convenient.

If they are sincere and repentant, yes, they can. If, however, they start off saying I'm going to do this now and later I'll ask for forgiveness, then they would be guilty of the sin of presumption.

Forgiveness requires repentance, and repentance requires regret and a firm resolution not to do it again. You can't plan to regret something in the future.

Eric

Lonnie replied:


Thanks!

Lon

Eric replied:


No problem.

Eric

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