Friday, January 12, 2007

Are Catholics Going to Hell Because They're Stupid?

I stumbled across a few anti-Catholic sites today making statements like:

"Catholics can be saved but if they believe that they are saved by works, even if through the Holy Spirit, then they are not Christians"
and various things like that. So ok... Let me get this straight. Salvation = by grace alone.... through faith long as you understand the mechanics of salvation correctly. However, if you're misled into believing a false doctrine... all the faith in the world cant save you.. You're going straight to hell! Sound reasonable to you? So it's not really faith alone anymore to these people. It's faith+correct doctrine! They have betrayed their own doctrine!

Are only the intelligent saved? Are idiots doomed to an eternity in hell? If correct doctrinal beliefs or a correct understanding of the exact mechanics or salvation were, by some ironic twist of fate, requirements for salvation, only the scholars would make it into heaven. (And not every scholar but only those who got it right!)

There are brilliant men and women in every branch of Christianity and in other religions. There are also idiots in every one. Sure there are disproportionate numbers in some branches *cough* *cough* (ok no name dropping).... But the bottom line is, even if faith alone is true (which its not) then almost anyone can be saved since faith alone is almost the easiest possible thing to accomplish. If its TRULY faith alone, that would logically mean that even if you reject another doctrine (pretty much no matter what it was) you could still be saved.

Now I needn't go on too much longer I just wanted to point out this logical and doctrinal fallacy here. Hope I made some sense. Peace


Tiber Jumper said...

Great Post!
I believe that Catholicism is meant to be universal in more ways than one. Even simpletons with simple faith can and do partake in salvation in the Church despite an incomplete and perhaps even flawed understanding of Catholic theology. Sometimes Christians can become "neo-gnostics" and require salvation to be obtained through a complex and almost juridical set of assents. I have been told ad- nauseum that I can't possibly have peace in Christ because of my failure to assent to
another's particularly narrow (IMHO)interpretation of one verse in Romans. Clearly, salvation as Christ intended for us can't all be based on one particular sect's view of but one book of the NT! If so, why didn't Jesus tell us that?

Instead, it was "you must be born again to see the kingdom of God and repent, believe and be baptized with water for the forgiveness of sins."
I am not a universalist believing that all men will be saved, (though Christ desires that), but I do think that at some level it becomes "works" to "have to" intellectually ascribe and assent to theological positions that us grey matter challenged folks could never completely understand.
Whenever, I start "getting my Dutch up" regarding my clever theological assertions, the thief on the cross comes to mind. Defying all theological formulae, he, that very day gets to spend eternity with Christ! (even without purgatory I might add) Now how does that make any sense? :)

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Thanks for the insight. You're exactly right about that how this intellectual achievement or understanding itself becomes a system or works and a man-made addition to the gospel.

You're also right about Romans, and I'll be posting my second summary on why Romans can not rightly be used against Rome but Im sure you already know all that. :)

NotMyOpinion30 said...

I'm Catholic and I'm stupid, but if I don't make it into Heaven that won't be why! :)

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Are only the intelligent saved? Are idiots doomed to an eternity in hell? If correct doctrinal beliefs or a correct understanding of the exact mechanics or salvation were, by some ironic twist of fate, requirements for salvation, only the scholars would make it into heaven. (And not every scholar but only those who got it right!)

This is an excellent statement and one with which I agree, at least on one level. My approach is, of course, from that of the Reformers. As you know, I believe that Covenant theology (Reformed) is the true heir of the Protestant Reformation, that American Evangelicalism today suffers from flawed theology developed in large part in the 19th and 20th centuries. I do believe in sola fide, but too many Protestants (particularly easy-believism types) really do not understand what faith alone means. Many think it means saying some kind of sinner's prayer and then going along their merry old way in their sinful lives. What it means in reality is trust in the person of Jesus Christ as both Lord and Saviour as being the One who has purchased salvation for His church by virtue of His atoning work on the cross. It also means that faith is neither a meritorious work, nor is itself dependent on meritorious works. Nevertheless it cannot be separated from works (cf. James 2:14-17). The Bible, as understood by Reformed systematics, says that God's elect will inherit His kingdom, regardless of their intellect, assent, cooperation or any work on their own part. Even the faith that they do have is a gift of God, in addition to the grace that comes with it. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8-10). This is not to say that human responsibility is eliminated. Clearly the Bible teaches both God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. Good works are what we were created for; they are the evidence of our trust in Christ, that we indeed follow Him. Again, works cannot be separated from belief when discussing faith. However, God is the One who causes us to seek Him and to put our trust in Him by quickening our hearts through regeneration. Regeneration is the cause of our faith. We exercise that faith as we live our lives in obedient service to Him. Ultimately, the degree to which we understand intellectually what the Scriptures teach regarding faith and practice is not what saves us. God is the One Who saves us. Otherwise, no infant or severely mentally challenged person could ever partake in Heaven, and that's just ludicrous, in addition to being completely unsupported by Scripture. The thief on the cross, as Tiber Jumper mentioned, was that very day in Paradise with Jesus because of God's grace in his life. His heart of stone, at one time at enmity with God, was exchanged for a heart of flesh and peace with God.

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Pilgrim, as a former reformed Presbyterian myself, I agree that there is a big difference between reformed theology and much of todays theology stemming from the evangelicals. Unfortunately, even many in the reformed churches dont truly understand their own theology (and this could be said of any church) and so you always get that gravitation towards pop-culture contemporary evangelical "my own personal Jesus" theology.

In debates however, there is a tendency for Catholics or Orthodox to mistakenly lump all Protestant views together and I'm guilty of that myself sometimes so thanks for bringing up some of the contrast.

Now for every verse, Catholics and Protestants and every church and sect have their own defenses ready to explain why this verse fits with their theology. If you're clever enough, you can pretty much claim that the bible teaches anything you want.

Thats why I feel very safe siding with the Catholic view. While I personally believe their own exegesis of Scripture is the best, I didn't make my decision based on that alone but mainly on the fact that this tradition extends back to the apostles. I believe that the Catholic Church exegetes in the same way that Christians have always done.

Most of reformed theology hits very close to home with me since thats how I was raised. It makes a lot of sense on many levels.

Sola Fide, I think is largely a semantic battle between reformed and orthodox. If you get much further away from Catholicism than reformed though, it becomes less semantic and more theological.

MessengerBoy said...

Good things to think about. Unfortunately, that's a problem, because many Christians don't. Think, that is.

I stumbled upon your blog tonight while looking for insight about why following Roman Catholicism won't in and of itself lead one to hell. I am a Christian, but I'm not a part of the Roman Catholic church. I'm also not a theologian, so I won't pretend to understand what you guys are talking about when you say sola fida.

My particular interest in this topic right now is being driven by a friend of my daughter who is looking into joining the Roman Catholic church. She is currently attending a Foursquare church. Her pastor pulled her aside yesterday and today. He told her yesterday (basically) if she became Roman Catholic she would end up going to hell. He told her today that she couldn't be involved anymore with the children's program at the church because she would be a bad influence.

I'm looking for information from both a Catholic and non-Catholic perspective that would help me counteract this pastor's stupidity and help this young woman know the truth. I personally don't believe anyone is going to hell simply because they join, or convert, or whatever the correct terminology is, the Roman Catholic church. Any more than joining a Foursquare, or Baptist, or Methodist, or non-denominational church will send you to hell.

Any tips or nods in a helpful direction on this matter would be appreciated. Thanks!

TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Messenger, I think you're on the right track in recognizing that the pastor is unfortunately mistaken though I'm sure he has good intentions. (FYI I'm no theologian either, sola fide is a relatively new term to me also. I am a former Protestant convert to the Catholic Church - sola fide means 'by faith alone' which is something that neither the Catholic Church nor the Bible teaches)

As for going to hell, there is only one thing that sends someone to hell - sin; God offers His grace to us (as I'm sure you know) unmerited but we are required to accept this free gift. If we continually reject this gift until we die, we go to hell. (Again, Im not teaching you anything, you know all this; just simplifying things hopefully and putting it back into perspective) but the Catholic position is that God and only God decides who goes to Heaven & who to Hell.

Some like to say that "by faith alone we are saved" and then in the next breath say "unless you understand salvation how we do, then you're going to hell" so then it is no longer faith alone but faith + correct doctrine. (And btw, you have to come up with this doctrine out of your own intelligence since the Church has never taught this doctrine).

Anyway, Im trying to say too much in too little space. Thanks for stopping by. If you need further clarification on this or other Catholic doctrines I would be happy to answer -

Anonymous said...

Ephesians 2:8 Your are saved by grace not works not of your selves lest no man boast it's a free gift from God.

Their it is straight from the bible. Unless you are born again John 3:3 and live for Christ you are eternally lost forever. Catholics,Orthodox, all religions attempt to reach God by some method of works but will fail miserably in the end because they didn't trust solely on the name of Jesus Christ to pay for their sins past, present and future.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and unless one repents and turns to Christ they will die in the unforgiven sins and that includes Popes, Priests, any religion that denys the bible and it's teachings as truth. That is why Christ told the rich ruler it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Alexander, neither Catholics nor Orthodox deny the Bible nor do we teach that we earn salvation by works.