Sunday, September 25, 2011, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I was in the cemetery, standing at the head of the casket, leading the graveside prayers for my life-long Catholic parishioner. I decided, since we had already offered a full funeral Mass, to abbreviate this service and leave some time for the Protestant minister who had been invited by a daughter of the deceased. Looking up, I noticed that he had appeared, and stood opposite me. I nodded, stepped back, and he began by reading a passage from the Bible. He then told us, a mostly Catholic group, how at the daughter’s request he had visited the deceased in the hospital and asked him if he had been saved. The man answered, no, he never had known how to do it. The minister told him how, and the man did, and so the minister wanted to assure us that our departed had been saved, and therefore we should know he was with the Lord in heaven.
One couldn’t help but feel that the opposing team had scored. But that may not have been the reverend’s intent. In fact he seemed ill at ease, never looked at me, and left promptly. But, what about it? Are Catholics saved? Or are we, kept in ignorance by the Whore of Babylon, doomed to hell because we have not accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior?
If someone asks you if you are “saved”, or they might say “born again”, they are probably operating out of the “born again Christian” theology, familiar to anyone who has seen Billy Graham on TV. According to this theology we are all sinners, doomed to hell unless we repent of sin and turn to Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. At that point you are saved, and forever saved. You did nothing, and in fact can do nothing to earn God’s mercy, and so you cannot lose that mercy either once you’ve received it. In summary, salvation is by faith alone, not by works, and once saved always saved.
The Catholic faith is that, true, we are sinners, and we cannot earn God’s mercy; salvation is a grace, a free gift; but it is a gift we must respond to and put into action. Salvation is more like a life-long journey of many decisions than a single moment’s decision; the grace of God making it all possible, but our acting on that possibility being part of the process. To say “I am now saved, and am forever saved” is presumptuous. And there are many Bible passages to support the Catholic view. I will quote the briefest I can think of. It’s in Paul’s Letter to the Galations, where he is arguing that observance of the Jewish ceremonial law is not required for salvation, and he says:
St. Paul is the great authority quoted by the “faith alone” crowd, and he said it’s all a matter of faith working through love. He could have added here what he made plain elsewhere, that both faith and the works of love are made possible by God’s grace, so there are no grounds for boasting.
But let’s not plunge headlong into the whole faith vs. works debate. The born-again Christian wants to know if you have been born again, and the honest answer is “yes!”, because every Catholic has been baptized. Here you could quote what Jesus said to Nicodemus, recorded in the Gospel of John, ch. 3:
And this is what the Catholic Church has always taught, that the Sacrament of water baptism forgives sin and confers the gift of the Holy Spirit, adopting the baptized person into the life of God merited for us by Christ.
Objection: “But you were only a baby and didn’t know what was happening, much less accept Jesus for yourself.”
Your answer: Exactly! That’s how little Catholics believe that we earn salvation by what we do. God doesn’t even wait for that little child to grow up and reach the age of reason and make his own personal faith commitment. We take seriously what you claim to believe, that our relationship with God is God’s initiative, not our own. Christ did not wait for any personal recognition or affirmation on the part of children before he said, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for it is to just such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
But your born-again questioner is wanting some evidence that a Catholic truly repents of sin and personally accepts Jesus as Lord and savior. So tell them about the sacrament of Confirmation, when the candidate reaffirms, on her own volition, the faith commitment made for her at baptism, and consider the annual Easter renewal of baptismal promises that everyone in church is guided through:
Do you reject sin so as to live in the freedom of God’s children? I do.
Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin? I do.
Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness? I do.
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth? I do.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father? I do.
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and lfe everlasting? I do.
Do you mean it? Okay, you have just repented of sin and professed faith that Jesus is Lord. If this is what the born-again Christian is looking for, you’ve just been born again.
But no need to wait for Easter. What does a Catholic do at every Sunday Mass? He or she starts by confessing that he is an unworthy sinner, has sinned through his own fault, in thought and word, in what he has done and failed to do, and he looks to God’s mercy, not his own efforts, for salvation. “May God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.”
Does your born-again friend need more evidence? Stay on through Mass until the priest raises the Eucharist before the people and says – and here I will use the new Missal translation because it is closer to the Bible story of the centurion who trusted Jesus with faith – the priest says, to all present:
Look at Jesus, look to Jesus, the Lamb-Victim sent by God to merit our salvation by his sacrifice on the cross. And the Catholic responds:
“Lord, I am not worthy”. Does that sound like someone standing on the merits of their own good works?
“Only say the word and my soul shall be healed”. Who would say that but someone who looks to Jesus, their savior, to give what they cannot give themselves?
Is more evidence needed that the devout, believing Catholic has been born again and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior? There is more evidence to give, but this is surely enough for any one of us, being visited and questioned by a well-meaning minister, to answer, honestly and with conviction:
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Date: Wed Sep 28 23:54:47 2011
Location: Lewiston, Idaho, USA
According to the Lutheran’s Augsburg Confession (1530) “Men are freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake.” This doctrine of justification by faith was the keystone of the whole Lutheran system and became the battle cry of the Protestant Reformation. Drastic consequences followed. An almost entirely self-centered individualism resulted, evangelical piety making personal conversion, guaranteed by feelings of assurance, the center of its work. Popular Protestantism urges the individual “to believe in Christ and be saved.” The sense of community and of corporate religion declined. No intermediaries – priests, sacraments, or saints – were needed. The church was redefined: no longer as a visible institution founded by Our Lord, but as a vague, invisible aggregate of the “saved,” known only to God.
In the new interpretation of Christianity, the sacraments could not be a means of grace. They were merely symbols of a favor already conferred, and they came to be neglected. The logical end of the road was reached in the complete abandonment of liturgical worship and sacramentalism by such bodies as the Quakers and the Salvation Army. The effect on the spiritual life was calculated to have equally sad results: the theory of justification by faith alone could not maintain Christian standards of spirituality.
Is just the “feeling” of salvation all that is necessary, if you are “justified by faith alone?” This idea has resulted in a self-centered and subjective individualism, divorced from all ideas of the Church incorporating us as members of the mystical body of Christ. People have tended to regard the whole of religion as consisting in their own interior and personal state of religious “feeling.” It has led to the most extravagant and even morbid attempts to induce an artificial sense of security by periodic outbreaks of highly-charged emotional revivalism. In those converted at such meetings there has resulted only too often an appalling complacency in the thought of being among the “saved” that is as far removed as possible from the humility declared by the gospel to be a first condition of our rehabilitation in the sight of God.
Christ warns us to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation (Matt 26:41); he makes us pray to be preserved from temptation (Luke 11:4). Surely such warnings are meaningless to the man who thinks himself already and permanently saved.
The idea of “full, free, and present salvation” for those “justified by faith” – as if Christ had done all the work and the Christian had to do nothing toward his own salvation – led to the dreadful doctrine that it is belief and not behavior that matters – a doctrine that is the very basis of hypocrisy. Christ warned his hearers against imitating the Pharisees, of whom he declared, “They preach but they do not practice.” (Matt 23:3). Quite evidently He thought that not only what we believe matters but also how we behave.
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matt 7:16-20) And then later, “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matt 25:40-46) And further on Jesus says, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” How can it be said that salvation is “wholly without works” if, for lack of good works, it can be forfeited?
Apart from the fact that were it not for the Catholic Church, Protestants would have no Bible at all, does the Bible support this idea of salvation based on faith alone? Scripture teaches that one’s final salvation depends on the state of the soul at death. As Jesus Himself tells us, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt 24:13; cf. 25:31-46). One who dies in the state of friendship with God (the state of grace) will go to heaven. The one who dies in a state of enmity and rebellion against God, (the state of mortal sin) will go to hell.
For many fundamentalists and evangelicals it makes no difference – as far as salvation is concerned – how you live or end your life. Consider the warning Paul gave: “See then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off: (Rom. 11:22; see also Heb. 10:26-29, 2Pet. 2:20-21).
Can we know we are saved for certain? Yes. This is why God gave us the sacraments – to provide visible assurances that He is invisibly providing us with His grace. And one can be confident that one has not thrown away that grace by simply examining one’s life and seeing whether mortal sin has been committed. Indeed, the tests that John sets forth in his first epistle to help us know whether we are abiding in grace are, in essence, tests of whether we are dwelling in grave sin.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Likewise, by looking at the course of one’s life in grace and the resolution of one’s heart to keep following God, one can also have an assurance of future salvation. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:12) says, “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is not the language of self-confident assurance. Our salvation is something that remains to be worked out.
How to answer the question: Are you saved? The Catholic response is: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom 8:24; Eph 2:5-8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 2:15; Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom 5:9-10; 1 Cor 3:12-15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom 5:2; 2 Tim 2:11-13).
Date: Thu Sep 29 06:44:31 2011
From: Vic Biorseth
See also the Are You Saved? page.
Date: Tue Jul 03 00:53:08 2012
This video refutes protestant theology and confirms Catholic theology on "Being Born Again"
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Converted Page to SBI! Release 3.0 BB 2.0.
Date: Thu Jul 18 19:05:14 2013
Five questions that Baptists and Evangelicals should ask themselves:
1. Does the Bible state that a sinner is capable of choosing righteousness/choosing God?
The Bible states that the sinner must believe and repent, but are these actions initiated and performed by man of his own intellectual abilities, or are faith, belief, and repentance a part of the entire "package" of salvation? Are faith, belief, and repentance part of the "free gift"? Does God give you faith, belief and repentance at the moment he "quickens" you, or does he require you to make a decision that you want them first, and only then does he give them to you.
2. Is there any passage of Scripture that describes salvation in the Baptist/evangelical terms of: "Accept Christ into your heart", "Make a decision for Christ", "Pray to God and ask him to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Lord and Savior (the Sinner's Prayer)". Is it possible that being "born again" is something that God does at a time of his choosing, and not something that man decides to do at a time of his choosing? Is man an active participant in his salvation in that he cooperates with God in a decision to believe, or is man a passive participant in his salvation; God does ALL the work?
3. Is the Bible a static collection of words or do the Words of God have real power, real supernatural power? How does the Bible describe the Word? Is it the meaning of the Word that has power or do the words themselves have supernatural power to "quicken" the souls of sinners, creating faith, belief and repentance?
4. Does preaching the Word save everyone who hears it, or only the "predestined", the "elect", the "called", the "appointed" will believe when they hear the Word?
5. WHEN does the Bible, if read in its simple, plain, literal rendering, say that sins are forgiven and washed away?
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
Date: Thu Jul 18 19:47:55 2013
From: Vic Biorseth
Those are all good questions for Baptists, Evangelicals and Calvinists. Note well that the "Word" you are seeking answers for, as spoken of in the Bible, are spoken words, not written. Faith comes from hearing, not reading (Rom. 10:17). The Bible didn't exist yet. It is the meticulously preserved words and the authoritative meaning of the words that you are looking for.
You might seek the answer to another question, which was put to Luther: Where did the purely Lutheran dogma of justification by faith alone come from?
And if justification by faith alone is a new Gospel, is not any new Gospel cursed by Scripture? (Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18-19)
You might try expanding your search to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Date: Mon Jul 28 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
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Various unrelated topics that stirred thought and provoked writing (or quoting) at one time or another. The Everything Else Bucket.
Undoing Evil: Unraveling the sly "Good Intentions" destroying the West. Undoing Evil means reversing Political Correctness and Amorality, and returning to Pure Meritocricy.
Letter to an American Warrior, from an old American Citizen, with Love. An old man's advice to a young man, sent in a letter to an American Warrior.
The Judas Complex: How a traitor may not recognized his own treason. The Judas Complex explains how Judas Iscariot - like many a modern day Bishop - compromised with the world.
Christmas 2014: Hope is Reborn; Salvation has come into the world. The Christmas 2014 Turning Point: The Kingdom is upon us; our King is among us.
A Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ deepens faith and faith commitment. A Personal Relationship with America deepens love of country and patriotic commitment.
Work at home jobs that have had me. A long, costly and unsuccessful run at work from home jobs that didn't work for us.
Truth versus Agenda addresses the simplest of problems greatly complexified. Truth versus Agenda examines the contest between reality and its opposition.
Vic has Iron Weights for sale; Mama says they have to go. Lots of iron weights for sale; all have to go at once, in one sale.
My poor old truck is again starting to look like a poor old truck. After half-a-million miles, we're now approaching another decision time; another paint job, or a new truck.
A Palin Parker Ticket? My Dream Candidates for 2012. Why a Palin Parker ticket is better than any professional politician Republican ticket you can come up with for 2012.
Elitism Vs Palinism: Why the Left and the Elites Loath and Fear Sarah Palin. It isn’t just Marxism Vs Palinism; it’s also established intellectual elitism vs Palinism. The elite need someone to look down upon.
Here we see Bush family class captured in a simple private citizen’s photo. George W. (and Mrs.) Bush quietly demonstrate Bush family class without hoopla or fanfare.
Marxists love crisis, and they love an oil spill crisis most of all. Marxists even create and drive crisis. Their favorite crisis of all must be the Oil Spill Crisis, which is even better than a Banking Crisis.
The Godless Left leads the young and naive to their utopian Hell. For an honest comparison of the effects on youth, we need to look to the history of the Godless Left versus the Religious Right.
On Threats to America's National Existence. A look at the nature of our national existence, what makes us America, physical threats to that, and the possibility of just going out of existence.
On the ethics of language: English dictionary Vs. Political-Correctness taboos. Language evolves, yet morals are (or should be) fixed. This poses questions re the ethics of language.
Thinking Catholic direction: threats to America, Church, Ethos, even History. The Thinking Catholic Direction is multi-faceted, facing threats to American National Existence, Catholic Liturgy, our common Guiding Ethos - emphasis changes to meet the threat of the moment.
The website is going on hold for at least the next five weeks. Business calls, and I must respond. Will be traveling, and not taking the laptop this time.
Current Website Status. Still too busy for individual responses to questions, comments & criticisms.
Our 2006 Ohio Voter Guide. The choices are quite clear, and the 2006 Ohio Voter Guide was easy to produce.
On carrying my Lord, Jesus Christ, in my pocket. As a Eucharistic Minister, I am on occasion carrying the Lord Jesus in my pocket. It's a wondrous thing.
A 2006 Christmas and Hanukkah wish. May the Holy Days we celebrate remind us all of who we are, and how we are different from other peoples.
Current Democratic Party platform reveals anti-Semitic streak among Liberals. In their voting, their speechifying, and in the slant of their controlled mainstream media reporting, the current Democratic Party Platform is made clear to all observers.
The "Left", and The DaVinci Code, The Passion, and Cartoons of Mohammed. You can tell a lot about a movement by its public words. The Passion? "Unreservedly Bad." The DaVinci Code? "Unreservedly Good." Anything to do with Islam? "No Comment."
Home For Christmas 2008. Website Getting Active Again
Hydrogen power could be, and should be, the wave of our automotive future. Any move toward hydrogen power is a move toward a cleaner and more efficient fuel, and away from our dangerous dependency on oil.
Kerry lies again, and then lies about his lies, in concert with the SLIMC. There he goes again! Kerry lies again and again about American servicemen and veterans; he just can't help himself.
What's going on with Mel Gibson? Is he really an anti-Semite? I am surprised that Mel Gibson is an alcolholic. But I am never surprised at any words that come out of the mouth of any drunk.
Still Worrying Over NuVo Consequences. The Holidays have gone by, several days have passed, and the SANE NuVo Initiative still stands pat.
The Dem's October Surprise involves another flip-flop of their public "standard". The clearly pro-sodomy Party that openly seeks the "Gay" vote goes Victorian for another pre-election October Surprise ploy.
Some Problems with NuVo: the so-called Null-Vote Initiative. A "philosophical" movement aimed at keeping religious conservatives from voting? Seriously? Let me state my problems with NuVo.
Come, let us sit and reason together. Jews and Christians of various stripe and spot can say to each other, 'Come, let us sit and reason together.' But we can't do that with the Moslems.
Regarding SANE works dropping NuVo: Nul Vote Initiative dies with a whimper. If you can't really present a good argument, sit down. On SANE Works dropping the NuVo Initiative: a program that works hard to SOUND pro-American while ACTING to oppose American National Existence.
Even experts grossly underestimate the Marxist zeal of the American Left. The sharp Left turn happened in the Hoover-FDR era, and the Marxism of the American Left has been deepening ever since.
Thinking American, in a nutshell: When one has lots to say, but time is limited. The older I get, the busier I get. Answering multiple questions as a thinking American, but in a hurry.
"We are an Easter People, and Hallelujah is our Song." (John Paul the Great) Our absolutely unique and singular Easter story, and the incredible force with which it struck human history.
Witnessing, grieving and weeping for our dieing culture. What might it take to call a whole people back from the brink of cultural death?
So how come we have all these homeless people if our system is so great? The strong "Utopian Idealist" firmly believes that absolute worldly perfection is actually possible. Therefore, there should never be any such thing as a hungry or homeless person.
Taking a look at Illegal Imigration and Tax Problem solutions. In our view, the minimum wage and income tax have outlived their usefulness, and only contribute to the illegal alien problem.
First journal / blog entries when the thinking catholic blog first opened up. Notes to readers about what I was doing.
On-going WebSite work and planned WebPages as of 09/07/2006. Adding items to book store.
Vic's busted finger status - life goes on. Another busted finger status report, since the original one rolled off of the 50-entry BLOG update records.
Website Status as of 02/05/2009. No more Bookstore; no more Contact Me; no more complexity.
Website Status 03-09-2009. Just a note to bring you up to date on website status 03-09-2009.
Website Status 04/06/2009. Busy driving daily now; most website work will be weekend and as available.
The Plastic Bags and Eco Doom theory: will plastic bags end life as we know it? Plastic Bag and Eco Doom predictions tell us that plastic grocery and garbage bags will still be buried in the land fills and dumps a thousand years from now. Well … so what?
Farewell Smokey Biorseth; Rest In Peace. Hello Coal Biorseth; Welcome Home. As we were laying our beloved Smokey Biorseth to rest in his grave beside the lilies, a carbon-copy of Smokey, in younger form, emerged from the lilies.
Honky Biorseth really runs this house. If you want to know what's in any cabinet in the house, just ask Honky Biorseth.
More Marxist infiltration of higher education. Public school and the media are not the only places dominated by Marxist thought; even Catholic institutions are infected.
Of Families and Fortunes, and Inheritance Vs. Redistribution. Families and Fortunes are despised by Marxists, because Marxism demonizes the family, demonizes fortunes, and even demonizes profit.
Website Status Update 11/09/10. Just a Website status update; where we are and where we’re going.
Regarding the 2010 Tax Deal Pledge Breaker: Pledge? What Pledge? How can Republican deal makers even face us? We need to hang a Tea Party target on all professional politicians for 2012.
Pray for peace in Jerusalem, and for deliverance of Israel from harm. To pray for peace in Jerusalem is to pray for deliverance from Obama.
A tale of Promised Financial Melt-Down Debt Ceiling Nonsense and Happy Marxists. Everyone, on both sides, believes the Debt Ceiling Nonsense. Why?
Our Ohio voter Guide for the 2012 Election. The 2l012 Ohio Voter Guide – The Choices Have Never Been Clearer, or more critical.
Evangelization enters the animal kingdom with the first bear prayer. It is fitting that the first bear prayer would be a prayer of thanksgiving.
Is the Internet down in Lithuania? Sudden loss of Lithanian traffic suggests the internet is down in Lithuania.
The rise of the Femi Nazi Green Beret, and the decline of military victory. The first Femi Nazi Green Beret will be awarded out of fairness, not excellence.
Food Insurance: Is this stuff really any good? All of us conspiracy-theorizing, global-calamity doomsday-preppers need their Food Insurance.
We just had to try to do Robert Irvine's Plastic Wrapped Baby Back Ribs. Put plastic wrapped baby back ribs in the oven? What? Are you nuts?
Thoughts on the first Eucharist, established by the Last Supper. The first Eucharist was recognized by the Apostles for what it was on that holiest Holy Thursday.
Tea-Party-Candidates-04-18-2014. The Constitution is not going to be restored to legal preeminence unless we replace leadership incumbents of BOTH PARTIES.
Ecce homo; Behold the man. Ecce Homo. Behold the Innocent Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world.
When your system slows down or hangs, it's time for a Total System Reboot. America, the World, and even the Catholic Church may need a Total System Reboot.
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