I wrote these series of articles (see menu sidebar to the left) as a Catholic for Catholics, but I no longer accept Catholic teaching as the authoritative source of truth.I have not attempted to align these articles with my current views.
The Bible has many passages that perfectly match the teachings of Catholic Church. (However, this does not prove these teachings are actually true.)
Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. (Romans 1:5)
This verse equates obedience with salvation and states that obedience is the goal of the gospel message. This verse contradicts the Protestant view that salvation comes from faith without works (Sola Fide — faith only). But according to this verse, it is obedience to God's law and God's commands which is the significant factor in salvation. True repentance will of necessity have obedience.
This is not to say that salvation is by works only which is the usual misrepresentation of the Catholic view. Works without faith cannot save. But neither can faith without works. The Catholic view of the interaction of faith and works is that faith and works cannot be separated. Without works, there is no such thing as faith because true faith results in works. If there are no works demonstrating obedience, there is no faith.
Faith is not a mere intellectual assent to a set of facts. Neither is it a strong emotional experience in a moment of desperation which is later forgotten and which does not result in a changed life.
Martin Luther separated saving faith from works in his Sola Fide (faith only) doctrine which is the cornerstone of Protestant theology. But in doing so he created the problem of explaining how it can be that people who have been saved can fail to have good works (read more).
You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. (Romans 14:10)
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)
Paul is speaking to believers and states that everyone will be judged, including believers. Some Protestants teach there will be a separate judgment of believers, and that this "Bema seat" judgment is for the purpose of providing rewards based on their good works after salvation. But this passage does not speak of rewards, only of judgment. Notice that the first part of verse 10 refers to judging one another, not rewarding one another.
The Catholic Church makes no distinction between the judgment of believers and non-believers. Everyone is judged based on the same standard — their righteousness before God. Believers have received the righteousness of Christ through His work on the cross as He died sacrificially for those who have faith in Him.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Martin Luther and John Calvin, in the doctrine of predestination, taught that God predestined who He would save and who He would not save. Certainly, today some Protestant denominations reject five point Calvinism, but it remains an influential factor in Protestant theology.
The Catholic view is that God calls everyone, but He does not violate man's free will. Man can choose to accept or reject God's call. This verse affirms this view by stating that God has prepared something for those who love Him. It does not say that God prepared something for those He predestined.
God has predestined His plan of salvation, not the fate of individuals.
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time. (Titus 1:1,2)
This passage refutes the Protestant doctrine of assurance, which states that it is necessary to know that you know you are saved. Martin Luther taught that a person could not really have saving faith without this feeling of assurance. And how many sermons are given with the purpose of persuading the hearers to feel this sense of assurance?
For many Protestants who don't live godly lives, this assurance is misplaced. This passage in Titus equates salvation with "the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness."
Typically, Protestant preachers claim that the word "hope" in this passage really means "assurance." But this "hope" is linked with "godliness" so that without "godliness" there is no reason to have this "hope." A person who does not live a godly life has no reason to have the assurance of salvation; the "hope" of eternal life. Certainly, the emphasis of many Protestants on Lordship Salvation expresses this same idea that salvation is not available to those who refuse to submit in obedience to Christ. However, there is still a strong tendency in Protestant evangelism to emphasize that a person merely believe in a moment of emotional intensity and make a public profession of their faith. But without a godly life to back up this profession of faith, this "hope of eternal life" may prove to be a false hope.
We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)
Many Protestant denominations firmly teach that God will only redeem Christians; that heaven will only be populated with Christians; and that non-Christians are all doomed to hell. When considering whether the pygmies in Africa can be saved, many Christians would like to believe that there is a way in which they can be, but their theology does not provide for a way. As a result, many are uncomfortable with discussing the topic.
The Catholic Church teaches that God can be merciful to non-Christians who are obedient to God's law according to the knowledge they have about it. (And everyone has at least some knowledge of God through their conscience). (The conscience must be properly formed to contain the proper moral codes.) I should emphasize that all who are ultimately saved are saved through Christ's work of redemption on the cross, whether they are aware of this fact or not.
This verse clearly states that Christ is the Savior of all who are saved, and that this number of the redeemed includes at least some non-Christians.
For those who have heard the gospel and rejected a life with Christ, it is a very risky proposition to hope in salvation based on God's mercy. But for those who have never heard the gospel presented in a clear, sensible manner there is at least some hope of salvation if they follow the dictates of their conscience. (The conscience must be properly formed to contain the proper moral codes.) Certainly, the plan of salvation that is revealed by the light of the gospel provides a far better and more sure way.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6)
The Protestant Reformation institutionalized the idea that church tradition and teaching should be rejected, and that the scripture is the only authority (Sola Scriptura). In contrast, the Catholic Church teaches that there is a body of authoritative tradition which has been passed on from generation to generation. This forms the "deposit of faith" and has authority which is equal to that of scripture. This verse supports the Catholic view.
What often goes unstated is that the spoken word is an untrustworthy source of long-lasting information, and that the Early Church Fathers had many opposing views. In addition, they assumed that Church leaders would be holy and orthodox, but this was not always followed as the generations progressed. Thus, capital-T Tradition is not a trustworthy source of truth as claimed.
Rather than referencing scripture, Paul refers to the teaching they received from him. If Sola Scriptura were the correct view then Paul would have written something like, "keep away from those who don't live according to the scripture and to what I have written in this letter" (since it would someday become scripture). Instead he refers them to teaching he gave them in person.
It is possible and likely that some of this teaching does not appear anywhere in Paul's letters since he was not attempting to provide a systematic theology in his letters. His purpose in writing letters was to address whatever topics he felt needed to be addressed. There is very little mentioned in the New Testament regarding church practice and discipline, yet these are very important topics. We must look to church tradition for this information. But only those writings of the first several generations of Early Church Fathers can be trusted since these were apostolic.
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Anti-Catholicscommonly object to the Catholic priesthood by declaring that the Bible teaches that all believers are priests. These verses in 1 Peter chapter 2 speak of the priesthood in the context of the Old Testament priesthood and the nation of Israel, which were human institutions established by God with leaders, priests, and authority.
The church is also a human institution with leaders, priests, and authority. This passage confirms that this is what God intended the church to be. There is really no biblical support for the notion that the church is only the spiritual, invisible body of Christ. Certainly it is that, but it is clearly also a visible, human institution as this passage makes clear. Most denominations agree that they are to be visible, human institutions.
Just as Old Testament Israel had priests, the New Testament church also has priests. One obvious difference is that there is no longer any need for regular sacrifices since Christ is the perfect sacrifice. In Catholic church services (the mass), the priests facilitate the congregation's participation in Christ's true sacrifice.
Notice that in verse 5, Peter does not say that all believers are priests according to the model of the Old Testament priesthood. What he says is that all believers are being built to be a holy priesthood. Only some believers will have this role as priests in the church on earth; the others will finally become full priests in heaven (the Saints are priests who minister to the church on earth from heaven). Peter refers to the building of the house rather than the completed house. Certainly believers in this life are being prepared for their final objective which will not completely occur until the eternal state when we receive our resurrected bodies.
This is not to say that only certain believers operate in the priestly role of offering the sacrifice of praise and worship to God. All believers are called to operate in this priestly role. But the priesthood of the Old Covenant still survives as an institution in the church and requires that certain ordained priests operate in this special priestly role just as they did in Old Testament Israel. These passages in 1 Peter chapter 2 make it clear that the church is intended to be modeled after the features of Old Testament Israel. The images in these passages are not intended to be wild figures of speech but to express this truth regarding the nature of the church.
God did not abolish the priesthood. What He abolished was the need for sacrifices other than Christ's perfect sacrifice. But there is still a need for priests to administer this perfect sacrifice of Christ.
Paul refers to his priestly role in the church:
To be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God. (Romans 15:16)
Certainly the priests of Old Testament Israel had roles involving teaching the people and proclaiming God's plan of redemption. As a priest of the church, Paul performs these same roles.