This is a response to a Pastor (a former Catholic), from Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries, on a message board, Catholic Convert Message Board. He is an ex-Catholic, who wrote that the Church is not necessary, that you can go directly to Jesus, and read the Bible. He also wrote that belief was all that was necessary for salvation, and he gave other critiques of the Catholic faith. His comments are brief, and in red. What follows is my response. Although I originally wrote this to address this particular Pastor, I address this letter now to all ex-Catholics who have left the faith because they thought that they were getting the true gospel:
If you are not holding on to what the traditions that the apostles passed on, both oral and written, you are not following the gospel of Christ.
What did Jesus say? Did he say: “Go therefore and write a gospel, and bind everybody to follow how they personally interpret the gospel?” On the contrary, you have Jesus commissioning none of the apostles to write anything in the New Testament except the book of Revelation, whose canonicity was determined by the Church centuries later. He commissioned them to teach everything that he taught, Mt. 28:19. The apostles chose to teach both orally and in written form. Primarily they established churches and wrote nothing. Most of them didn’t write a thing, yet Churches were established by the apostles, and their successors we have today.
If you follow only what was written (or actually what you think Scripture means), you are not following the gospel of Christ.
In talking about the Church to the apostles, Jesus says:
17 "If he refuses to listen, even to the Church, let him be a heathen, or a tax-collector."
Dear Pastor, do you like to be like the heathen, by refusing to listen to the Church?
18 “Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
I don’t know about you, but I like to be bound to the Church that Christ has promised to give authority to bind and loose.
What I didn't realize was that out of the organism of the body of Christ came the organization of Catholicism and Orthodoxy. (By the way, since Christendom split in 1054, why aren't the Orthodox the true Church and why isn't their tradition infallible since they can make just as valid a claim of apostolic succession as can Catholicism?)
In regards to the Eastern Orthodox, they are very close to us theologically. We recognize their sacraments as valid. They recognize and have seven valid sacraments, just like we do. I would say that well over 90% of their theology is correct. For example, they agree with us that faith alone is a heresy, that Bible alone is a heresy, that Christ is really present in the Eucharist, that the Mass is a Sacrifice. That the Sacrament of Penance (John 20;22-23) is established by Christ. That once saved always saved is a false tradition of men. That Jesus really meant what he said in John 3:5, that one must be born of ‘water and Spirit’, i.e. baptism. That baptism does save, 1 Pet. 3:21. That baptism does wash away sins (Acts. 22:16). That Mary was without sin (Lk. 1:28, Gen. 3:15). That there are successors of the apostles who have authority given from God. They agree with us on these and many other things. So by you pointing to the Orthodox as historic, you show quite nicely how Protestantism has strayed from the truth of the Gospel.
Nevertheless, without the papal leadership for example, the Eastern Orthodox has unfortunately compromised the gospel in regards to, for example artificial contraception, which all of Christendom, including Protestants until 1930, unanimously condemned. Our church has unambiguously maintained this truth, in the midst of modernism. We are under the leadership that Jesus gave, when he told Peter, to feed his sheep (Jn. 21:15-17). Notice that Jesus’ sheep were under the care of Peter. I want to be the sheep of Jesus, one who is following whom Jesus gave his authority to.
Besides that, in the early centuries, the Sees of the East, went into various Christological errors, including Arianism, Nestorianism, etc. during the period of hundreds of years. After those years of heresies, the succeeding Patriarchs of the East did recognize that their predecessors were in error, and that Rome was right in those Christological areas. This is Shown here. The Bishop of Rome never taught any of the heresies that the Eastern Sees did. That shows who is infallible, and who is not. This confirms that Jesus really meant when he said not only that the gates of Hell shall not prevail, but that he would confirm the faith of Peter, who would strengthen the brethren that would not fail (Lk. 22:32). Jesus’ prayers are efficacious: They accomplish his will.
What I also did not comprehend, just as many others don't today, is that even if someone can trace their "descent" back to the apostles, it doesn't guarantee them to be apostasy proof. The Jews could claim direct "descent" from Moses, yet their apostasy led a whole nation away from the Living God.
Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church (Mt. 16:18). No such promises were given to the Old Covenant Jews. In fact, the Church replaced Israel, Gal. 6:16. He promised to be with his church until the end of time Mt. 28:20. Jesus thus himself makes the promise that the Church was apostasy proof. If the Church went into error, then he abandoned the Church that he promised never to leave. Why would you want to follow Jesus if you thought he couldn’t keep his promises? I follow him, because I know he is faithful to his promises.
I also find it interesting that for somebody who is supposedly a "co-redemptrix" that Jesus didn't even call her "mother" during His earthly ministry, but "woman" (John 2:4, 19:26). Perhaps He wanted her to realize that even though she was His mother, He was still her Savior and that she needed to come to Him like anyone else.
Do you think that Jesus is criticizing his own mother when he calls her woman? If he was dishonoring his own mother, he definitely could not be anybody’s Savior because then he would have broken one of the 10 commandments.
Actually he calls her woman precisely to point to the fact that she is the fulfillment of the woman of Genesis 3:15, and he points forward to Rev. 12. First Genesis 3:15:
I will put enmity between you and the WOMAN, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Only Mary bore the Savior. All Christian interpreters see the seed as fulfilled in Jesus. It was only Mary’s seed that brought salvation. She is thus the fulfillment of that ‘woman’. Eve’s disobedience brought destruction. Mary’s obedience brought us the redeemer. Notice that the woman of Genesis 3:15 is at total enmity with Satan. One is at total enmity only if she never cooperates at all with Satan. That is exactly how Mary is sinless. Thanks for bringing that up.
She is the woman who bore the son, and is thus Queen, as John writes in Rev. 12:
1 And a great portent appeared in heaven, a WOMAN clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2 she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. 3 And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the WOMAN who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; 5she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,
She is the woman who Jesus came through, for our own salvation. Jesus chose to come down through her. She said yes. By her saying yes, to the redeemer coming, our salvation (and her own salvation) is made possible. It is precisely because of his grace, that she was sinless, as the Orthodox Christians proclaim along with us. That is why she is full of grace, language used of no other person in the Bible (Kecharitomene), Luke 1:28.
That is why Elizabeth was so happy to see the Mother of God, when she said.
42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." 46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
BTW, are you one of the generations that calls her blessed? The Catholic Church has done so, for all generations, thus fulfilling Scripture. If you do not call Mary the mother of God… If you are not one of the generations that are calling Mary most blessed among women… Then you are not following the gospel of Christ.
In regards to salvation, do you preach the truth of the gospel? Then do you believe that Jesus gives us symbolic food in the Eucharist, or as Jesus says, “True Food, and true drink.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
If you act like the Jews who disbelieved that Jesus would give true flesh and true blood (Jn 6:52), then you are teaching a false gospel. For a closer reading of this passage in John 6, and an examination of Protestant objections, Click Here
In regards to salvation, do you teach that the criteria for getting to heaven or hell is based on what you did or didn’t do? As Jesus himself proclaimed, the criteria for getting to heaven is not “Whether you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior” (Nowhere found in the Bible), but the following:
31 "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O 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 welcomed me, 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, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal 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 welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
If you don’t teach that, you are teaching a false gospel.
Do you teach that one gets to heaven or hell based on whether you have done good (Of course one can only do good by God’s grace) or evil? Not just a one time thing accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior as the only grounds of salvation ? I know Protestants will say that one who is truly saved will do good works, but that is not the issue. The issue is whether doing good is any of the grounds of whether one will be saved). What does Jesus say?
Marvel not at this for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice. 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation
If you teach contrary to that, you are teaching a false gospel.
Do you teach that one within the realm of grace must be a doer of the law in order to be saved? Do you teach that in order to have eternal life you must have well doing, and do good to have eternal life?
As Paul writes, Romans 2:6-13:
6 For he will render to every man according to his works:
7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
8 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.
9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,
10but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.
11 For God shows no partiality.
12 All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
If you don’t teach that, you are teaching a false gospel.
Do you teach that one must keep the commandments to have eternal life? That keeping the commandments is a deciding criteria for salvation?
16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments."
If you don’t teach that you are teaching a false gospel.
Do you teach that in order to have the right to the tree of eternal life, that one must keep the commandments?
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
If you don’t, you are teaching a false gospel.
Do you teach that works must be done in order to complete faith, and in fact that works done only in God’s grace is the means that one is justified? And that one is not justified by Faith Alone?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. If you don’t teach that you are teaching a false gospel.
BTW, the only time the words ‘faith alone’ are used in the Bible, the words Not justified by are right in front of them, as James wrote here.
For those who twist Paul to teach Faith Alone, by ignoring the above verses, and exclusively focusing on other ones, I have examined some of their very favorite verses, in the following places: Romans 4:4-8 Proof for
Justification by Faith Alone? ,
Dialogue With an Ex-Catholic, Now Protestant Author on Justification
Do you teach that the apostles had power to forgive sins. And that part of the great commission was for the apostles to have the power to forgive sins? And that was to be passed on to succeeding generations?
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
If you don’t teach that you are teaching a false gospel.
Do you preach that baptism washes away sins?
And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.'
If you don’t, you are preaching a false gospel.
I know these verses and Scripture are inconvenient to your Bible alone, Faith Alone theology, but if you honestly study the Bible, you can not ignore what the Bible so clearly teaches. Of course, if you reject what it so clearly teaches, it is your soul at stake.
Of course, one must believe, so quoting many Scriptures, that say that one must believe, and just leaving it there, is not going to do it before God in judgment. Belief must produce obedience, to avail to salvation. Anyway, we are not adding to the work of Christ, any more than when you say that you must believe to be saved. Either way, one must apply what he did on the cross to one’s life. One definitely does not apply what Christ did for us, when we ignore what Scripture so clearly teaches. If you are no longer a Catholic (or never were one), come back to the Church which Jesus founded. Come to the Sacraments that he established for your salvation. Come back to the reception of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. If you are Catholic, let us thank him for his wondrous love and exult in the treasures of grace that he has poured out for us.
© 1999 To Ex-Catholics: Did You Leave for the True Gospel?...by Matt1618. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.
Last modified, Saturday, January 16, 1999