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Ryan wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • How do Catholics defend Romans 10:9?

"9 That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved." Romans 10:9

Seems to be straight forward to me.

Blessings,

Ryan

  { How do Catholic Christians defend Romans 10:9; it seems pretty clear to me? }

Paul replied:

Ryan,

Although all Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit and is the Word of God, it is always dangerous to extract one passage and attempt to make a principle out of it. It is true that having faith that Christ has risen from the dead and faith that He is now Lord of Heaven and earth, is the path to eternal salvation, but presumed in this faith is the intent to be baptized and to live the Christian life, cooperating with God by following His moral law and the precepts of His Church.

Since we are physical beings living in time and space, it is possible that one could reject God in the future. Grave sin takes someone out of the state of grace and off the road to salvation. As a remedy for that, thanks be to God, there is the sacrament of Confession.

Peace,

Paul

John replied:

Dear Ryan,

At text out of context, is nothing more than a pretext.

  • Using the fundamentalist approach, how on earth can someone who is mute ever be saved; after all, we must confess with our mouth, right?

To understand this verse we need to understand Paul's whole argument in Romans. That is, we are saved by grace through faith, and not by keeping the Mosaic law. It is true, we cannot save ourselves. Our works, done by our own strength do not save us and certainly circumcision, keeping the Jewish dietary laws, and sacrificing animals at the Temple, doesn't save us. In the same manner, keeping the Ten Commandments can't save us either. We need Jesus to save us.
Catholics don't disagree with that. This is an area where our Protestant brothers often have misperceptions about what we believe.

Our profession of faith does lead to justification in the sense that we obviously need to own our faith. True Baptism justifies us and gives us grace but at some point we have to own it.

Owning it, isn't a static event, in that it happens once, and even when we own it, it's not just a "get out of jail for free" card. Jesus is not our Lord and Bail Bondsman. He's our Lord and Saviour. He gives us the Holy Spirit in order that we might have the power to overcome sin.

Long before we come to Romans 10:9, we have read Romans chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9. These chapters give us the rest of the story, not to mention Romans 1 through 6. Romans 8 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but it also says that if by the Spirit we put to death the sins of the flesh, then we are the sons of God.

Look, I can make the Bible say anything.

  • For example, in one text, Paul tells husbands to love their wives as if they are their own flesh.
    Ephesians 5:28

  • In another text, Paul says he beats his flesh into submission every day.
    1 Corinthians 9:27

So if I take these two verses out of context together, I can argue that Paul advocates wife beating. Now that's an absurd example but it serves us a good illustration and a warning.

We can't just take one verse and say, hey, this is pretty straight forward, it must mean "X".

We need to start by asking the question:

  • How does the verse fit into the argument the author is making?

I hope this helps,

John DiMascio

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