Being Catholic at Liberty University

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest blog post by Shoshana.  She is an art communications major at Liberty University. Her interests include literature, history, and botany. In her spare time, she enjoys watercolor painting, gardening, and reading fiction.

__________

I am a Catholic student at Liberty University. I am in my sophomore year studying studio art: painting, drawing, sculpture, etc. I very much enjoy my major and Liberty as a whole. I was raised Baptist. When I was eight years old my family entered the Catholic Church. My brother and I decided we wanted to stay at Liberty Christian Academy (LCA–the private Baptist school we had attended since kindergarten) rather than leave our friends and go to a Catholic school. There were times in high school when I regretted my decision to stay at LCA. I had a lot of friends, but none of them understood what I believed. My teachers were all great people, but all of them thought they knew what I as a Catholic believed and were often completely wrong. I cannot recount all the kindly and patiently uttered anti-Catholic speeches I endured, the many unconscious slights against Catholicism, and the few not-so-innocent remarks. One girl in my history class verbally attacked me because I “worshipped Mary”. I wish I had a dime for every time that untruth came up. Instead of asking me what I believed and taking time to listen, this girl assumed that she already knew all of my beliefs. Yet what she “knew” was based on hearsay.  This is perhaps to be overlooked in a teenager, but when the offender was a teacher, he or she needed to be aware that “bearing false witness” (i.e., telling the class that Catholics believe something which they do not believe) is an offense in God’s eyes.  In high school I had a teacher who told me it was his goal to convert me to Protestantism before the year was over. I found that insulting. I was a Christian just as he was (as Dr. Jerry Falwell always said, “Catholics are Christians!”).  What right did my teacher have to try to change my Christian beliefs to match his own? This wasn’t even in a Bible class. Speaking of Bible classes, I had one every year from kindergarten through twelfth grade. I think I can claim to be thoroughly familiar with Baptist beliefs and even those of some other Protestant denominations (as several of my Bible teachers were not Baptist). I have the advantage of familiarity with both sides of Catholic/Protestant arguments. I wish that before someone tried to challenge my beliefs, they had to spend thirteen years learning catechism and Christian formation in a Catholic school. That would eliminate most of the arguments I’ve ever had with people who were woefully ignorant of Catholic beliefs.

I had always planned to go to Liberty because LCA offered a four-year scholarship to students who went to high school there. Most of my friends were going to Liberty and, once again, I wanted to stay with them. I have encountered delightful people who have been willing to ask questions and listen to answers, such as an art professor who showed thoughtful interest when he learned that I was Catholic.  Many of my professors at Liberty, however, have been much like my teachers at LCA: good, friendly people, but biased and ignorant when it comes to Catholicism. Once again I am sitting through lectures where the professor’s anti-Catholic comments are prefaced with “You have to understand, it’s not that I’m against Catholicism,” and where teachers betray an ignorance of history and of Catholic teaching, telling the class, for example, that the veneration of Mary stems from the ancient pagan worship of Venus. It’s extremely frustrating when I get a professor who tells the entire 400-person class untruths about Catholics. Of course the class believes him or her because he or she is the one with the doctorate, the one who is supposed to be the most knowledgeable. These men and women seem to be perfectly knowledgeable in their fields, and I usually enjoy learning from them. It’s only when they stray into the apparently unfamiliar territory of Catholic beliefs that they start saying ridiculous things. One of my theology professors, for example, told our class that Catholics don’t believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead, based on something he apparently heard from a Catholic.  How was he to know that this isn’t true?

All Protestant denominations have a “statement of faith,” usually accessible at their website.  Therefore, if I meet a Baptist who tells me that she believes that all “good people” will go to Heaven, I can check the Thomas Road Baptist Church website, look at their statement of faith (found under “What We Believe”), and see whether my Baptist informant is a reliable witness to the actual beliefs of her denomination.  The Catholic “statement of faith” is called the Catechism of the Catholic Church (the CCC), and it is available in book form ($9.00 at Barnes and Noble), or online at www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm. Keywords can be searched, so if my professor wished to compare his Catholic informant’s claim to what Catholics actually believe about Christ’s resurrection, he could search the term “resurrection” and find the pertinent information on that subject, as follows

639 The mystery of Christ’s resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness.

642 The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary “witnesses to his Resurrection”, but they are not the only ones – Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.

643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact.

645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body.

Why does a familiarity with Catholic doctrine matter?  According to Christianity Today (2008), approximately 10% of Protestants are former Catholics, and approximately 8% of Catholics are former Protestants.  Over the past 25 years converts to Catholicism have included prominent Protestant philosophers (Trent Dougherty, Rob Koons, J. Budziszewski, Jay Richards and the former president of the ETS, Francis Beckwith), theologians (Paul Quist, Richard Ballard, Paul Abbe, Thomas McMichael, Mickey Mattox, David Fagerberg, Bruce Marshall, Reinhard Hutter, Philip Max Johnson, Michael Root, R.R. Reno, Douglas Farrow and Gerald Schlabach), Wheaton professors (Joshua Hochschild, Leroy Huizenga), authors (the editor of “First Things” Richard John Neuhaus, former Touchstone Magazine editor David Mills, the co-author of Norman Geisler’s Is Rome the True Church? Joshua Betancourt, and Elizabeth Elliott’s brother Thomas Howard), and pro-life activists (Lila Rose, Norma McCorvey, Paul Schenck, Bryan Kemper, and Abby Johnson). Yet I believe that many, if not most, Baptists are unaware of this trend.  Communication between Catholics and Evangelicals is crucially important, yet it will never take place if our attitude begins and ends with, “I already know what you believe – shut up and let me tell you about it.”  How can we follow the Scriptural injunction to “speak the truth in love” if we have no earthly idea what we are talking about?  A willingness to learn is vital, and the best place for Protestants to start learning about Catholicism is the CCC.  Taking the time to read the Catechism is arguably the best way to familiarize oneself with actual Catholic theology, as opposed to “My neighbor’s nephew’s sister-in-law’s hairdresser is Catholic, and she said…..”

Dialogue between Protestants and Catholics is more important now than it ever has been.  One of my most pressing concerns as a Catholic is to alert Protestants to the recent ruling by the Obama administration concerning Catholic-run schools, hospitals and social service agencies and contraception coverage.  Providing contraception for employees would be, of course, in violation of Catholic teaching, and is a gross affront to our Constitutional right of freedom of religion.  The issue is not whether you as a Protestant agree with the Catholic Theology of the Body; the issue is whether Catholics and Protestants will stand together in opposition to this blatant assault on religious freedom as guaranteed by the First Amendment.  Chuck Colson discusses it here:  www.oneplace.com/ministries/breakpoint/listen/outrageous-choice-religious-freedom-or-healthcare-257522.html.

Martin Niemoller’s famous warning could literally come true in our generation:

“Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I was Protestant.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

We are all Christians – we have to speak out for each other.  But as we speak out, I hope we can begin speaking to each other – listening and speaking the truth in love.

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31 Comments to “Being Catholic at Liberty University”

  1. That was so interesting to read!!!!! Thank you for sharing this girl’s story. Very eye-opening and I appreciate it.

  2. I understand where this post is coming from and I don’t rail against the Catholics. In fact, I am very good friends with the Catholic Society on campus. However, what is implicit in the Catholic claim (and one can observe this throughout Medieval history) is the universal ecclesiastical (and, at times in history secular) jurisdiction of the Papacy & Church Magisterium, including the authority of the Catholic traditions (like councils) as conscience-binding upon all Christians in addition to the Word of God. This is unacceptable to us. Also, one ought to be very uncomfortable, biblically speaking, about the Catholic teaching about justification and good works. Now grace seems emphasised, but when you read the canons of Trent regarding the justification of sinners, my good works–be they nevertheless performed by the power of God’s grace–merit eternal life in the official statement. This is very unacceptable; it is “the stumbling stone” for us (Rom. 9:30-33). Man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith; good works are the fruit of justification and not the cause (Eph. 2:8-10). So, I don’t thik we can accept everything the Catholic Church teaches, but I do say we can except certain Catholics as saved if they are truly believers who have a personal relationship with Jesus. I just wish that the Catholic Church would not put so much authoritative weight on its councils (like Trent) and thus be unwilling to reform some of its doctrines. But according to the nature of Catholic tradition, such changes seem very unlikely if not impossible.

    • I meant to say, “…I do say we can ACCEPT [not ‘except’] certain Catholics as saved if they are truly believers who have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

    • My biggest objection to Roman Catholicism is the claim that Mary was sinless and papal infallibility. I think these are in stark contrast to imputed sin. I really don’t have a problem with the Pope being the Pope. I actually think that’s important because what’s important about the papacy is the link to Christ. First Peter and then we have Peter’s discpline, and so on and so forth so the teaching of Christ is extrapolated by disciples back to Christ. I do think there’s issues with how grace is defined but I’m still learning about Catholicism.

  3. God bless you Shoshona! I was an evangelical for 31 years and though I was smart enough to go to medical school , I had all the knowledge of Catholicism learned from Chick Tracts! I never even heard of a Church Father. When I discovered that the early Christians had a sacramental faith believing in baptism for the forgiveness of sins rather than claiming a “personal relationship with Jesus” as the basis for their salvation, I was strangely moved and returned to the Catholic faith.

  4. B.P.:

    Have you read Francis Beckwith’s “Return to Rome”? He discusses the Catholic understanding of faith and works:

    “Because the Early Church was committed to the deep mystery of Chalcedonian Christology – Jesus of Nazareth was both fully God and fully man – it saw no need to divide faith and works, as if they were hostile foes. Thus, it saw a Christian’s obedience, one’s “works,” as the exercise of faith by which the believer undergoes intrinsic transformation while in communion with God. For the Early Church,God became a human being so that human beings may become godly. After all, if works diminish faith’s significance because our cooperation apparently limits God’s sovereignty, then why believe that Jesus really took on a human nature, for does not that imply that God was not sufficiently almighty enough to save us without acquiring a human nature?”

    “According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ‘justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom,’ and yet, ‘man’s merit… itself is due to God.’ So, the Christian, who by God’s grace is given the power to cooperate with God’s grace, cannot by her works earn the grace that she receives, just as the addition of a human nature contributed nothing to the divine status of the second person of the Trinity. Yet, in both cases, something wonderful has happened. To think that God’s sovereignty is diminished by our cooperation is no different from thinking that Jesus was less divine because He took on a human nature.”

    “The key to understanding Catholic theology is to set aside the assumption that it is always a zero-sum game. Justification is about our being part of a communion of saints, the body of Christ, with whom we can receive and share the unearned and totally gratuitous wonders of God’s grace, through baptism, the Eucharist, confession and all the sacraments. I do nothing without the initiation of the Holy Spirit. It is not my merit; it is His. And yet, there is a mystery here. I cooperate with this grace, but I contribute nothing to it…..” Return to Rome, pp. 112-113.

    “Man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith; good works are the fruit of justification and not the cause (Eph. 2:8-10).” The Catholic Church would, at all times in Her history, agree that good works are NOT the cause of our justification. I think Dr. Beckwith explains this beautifully. “Return to Rome” is definitely worth a look – not the same, obviously, as reading the Catechism as “Shoshana” suggests, but a great “apologia pro vita sua” by the former president of the Evangelical Theological Society.

  5. Have you read the Catholic Catechism or the Council of Trent? The true body of Christ is justified by grace alone through faith. Many here are claiming that the RCC has never taught justification by works, this is untrue of the past and untrue now.

    CCC 2010, “…Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”

    CCC 2027, “Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.”

    CCC 2068, “The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them;28 the Second Vatican Council confirms: “The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments.”

    The Sixth Session of the Council of Trent on Justification

    CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

    CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

    CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.

    CANON XIV.-If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.

    CANON XIX.-If any one saith, that nothing besides faith is commanded in the Gospel; that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor prohibited, but free; or, that the ten commandments nowise appertain to Christians; let him be anathema.

    CANON XX.-If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema.

    These are especially clear:
    CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

    CANON XXXII.-If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose [Page 49] living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

  6. Mary mother of Jesus as taught by the Catholic Church

    CCC 2682 Because of Mary’s singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her.

    CCC 969, “Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”

    CCC 966, “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.”

    “Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother.” (Vatican Website: Encyclical of Pope Leo 13th on the Rosary, Octobri Mense, Pope Leo 13th, 1903-1914)

    The names of Mary according to the Vatican. This is not worship?

    Holy Mother of God, Holy Virgin of virgins, Mother of the Church, Mother of divine grace, Mother most pure, Mother most chaste, Mother inviolate, Mother undefiled, Mother most amiable, Mother admirable, Mother of good counsel, Mother of mercy, Virgin most prudent, Virgin most powerful, Virgin most merciful, Virgin most faithful, Mirror of justice, Seat of wisdom, Mystical rose, Tower of David, Tower if ivory, Ark of the covenant, Gate of heaven, Morning star, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comfort of the afflicted, Help of Christians, Queen of Angels, Queen of Patriarchs, Queen of Prophets, Queen of Apostles, Queen of Martyrs, Queen of Confessors, Queen of Virgins, Queen of all Saints, Queen conceived without original sin, Queen assumed into heaven, Queen of the most holy Rosary, Queen of families, Queen of peace. (vatican.va/special/rosary/documents/litanie-lauretane_en.html)

    • Gabriela:

      What you are doing is called “cherry-picking.” Rather than presenting the teachings on justification and the Blessed Virgin Mary in their entirety, you have selected out those that you believe prove your case. For example, you failed to cite what the Catechism teaches about idolatry:

      2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.

      and while you cited much about Mary, you left out an essential paragraph:

      971 “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.

      As you can see, “Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God,” and “This very special devotion (to Mary) . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit….” Catholics are forbidden to worship anyone but God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. None of the paragraphs or the titles for Mary you cited indicate that Catholics worship her. We do venerate Mary, but as the Catechism says, veneration “differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit.”

      Did you put this collection of paragraphs from the Catechism together yourself, or did you find it in an anti-Catholic book or on an anti-Catholic website? If you are not the author, then you are unknowingly bearing false witness. I know you love our Lord, and I know you want to please Him. Presenting the whole story, and not shading the truth, is an essential Christian act. We need to do everything in charity, presenting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to please our Lord.

  7. The issue of Protestant theologians claiming that the Catholic church does not teach the resurrection is a classic example of a red herring argument. It has nothing to do with anything. In 20 years of studying theology and witnessing to Catholics I have never heard a serious apologist ever make the case that Catholics denied the resurrection. It’s easy enough to make the statement that this is what some professor said, but it is totally unverifiable. There is no mention of the professor and no citation of a published work stating such a thing. But we are treated to a lengthy citation of what the Catholic church believes about the resurrection. Whaaaaa?

    • Jon,

      I think you can notice and understand why there is a bit of anonymity to this post. The professor’s comment was in a lecture so feel free to use this as a citation rather than a published text. Feel free to count her word as unreliable but I think it’s obvious why there are anonymities present (and for good reason in my opinion). I wouldn’t have had the professor’s name put in the post either.

      • Let’s assume for the moment that Shoshana does not have an ounce of bias and that what she is saying is accurate. Fine. But if a professor at this level makes such a statement, and this is somehow indicative of a trend in evangelicalism (which is insinuated) then surely there must be someone who has published such an opinion somewhere. What, with all of the Jack Chick type publishing which has transpired over the last 200 years surely someone must have expressed this opinion in print. As a pastor, Bible student and antiquarian bookseller who has handled many “anti-Catholic” volumes over the last 17 years as a professional bookseller, I have never (underline it) seen anyone make the audacious claim that Catholics don’t believe in the resurrection. Never.

        My point being that if the time is going to be taken to cite a Roman Catholic authority on the resurrection, why not cite an evangelical who teaches that Catholics do not teach the resurrection? Surely Shoshana is able to use the vast resources at LU’s library to find just one such reference. She wouldn’t even have to cite the professor.

        if LU profs are so ignorant as to cite nonsense why are they employed at all? And why would a degree from that institution mean anything? Of course, this is the same institution that brought us Ergun Caner and his antics so perhaps that is par for the course.

        On the Mary issue, I have a couple of questions for the Catholic readers of this blog. 1) Was Mary a product of immaculate conception? 2) Did Pope John Paul II teach that Mary is a co-redemptrix with Jesus? Yes or no will suffice.

      • Why are you so hostile here? I don’t know of anyone has said that in a published work but it doesn’t matter. She’s not making use of a universal quantified here. She’s giving a particular instance. Profs do say dumb things sometimes, obviously. Why be so hostile and skeptical about this? You applying this to all professors is fallacious and she not doing that either.

      • Help for Maureen Question 1 Yes. Question 2 No. Pope John Paul did not want to stir up a hornet’s nest at this time. I believe she is, too. She facilitated the coming of the Redeemer by giving birth to the Redeemer. Some folks just don’t care very much for her, that’s all.

  8. Since we are on the subject of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is so misunderstood allow me to throw out that the prayers not to Mary but for her prayers (there is a very big difference) are Biblical – here is the proof and you can check me:

    Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee (Lk 1:26;-28)
    blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus (Lk 1:42-43)
    Holy Mary, Mother of God(Lk 1:43)
    pray for us sinners (biblical relevance Dt 9:12-13,26-29),
    now and at the hour of our death. Amen (hebrew for Yes, I Approve)

    It is an unfortunate term that we often say that we pray to Saints such as Mary. No, we pray for their intercession. Meaning we ask them to pray for us. Since Saints by definition are in Heaven then they have the ability to do this as they have received eternal life. It is no different than one asking a friend to pray for them. You certainly wouldn’t call that praying to your friend.

    • Heather,

      The verses from Luke 1 do not constitute a prayer. It is an angel speaking to Mary.

      Luke 1:43 does not read, “Holy Mary, mother of God”. Check the Greek.

      You don’t need saints to pray for you. Jesus Christ ever lives to make intercession for us. Sola Scriptura.

      • Dear Jon,

        Scriptura does not say Sola Scriptura. Martin Luther, that arrogant, foolish Roman Catholic priest said that. Saint Paul refers to the benefits of reading Scripture, but in his day and age only the Old Testament existed. If Bible verses cannot be used in prayer, what is the use of Sola Scriptura anyway?

        In Luke 1:43 Elizabeth asks, “How is it that the Mother of my Lord should come to me.” You don’t think the Lord is God? I thought that was one heresy, at least, that has been laid to rest. I guess not.

        If we cannot approach all the members of the Communion of Saints, then that Communion is pretty pointless although it is in the Apostles’ Creed. I cannot think of Jesus as a self-centered deity suffering from paranoia who can’t stand the idea that anyone would even glance at someone other than Him, not even His Mother. We are *all* to pray for one another, and just because someone is not on this Earth, it does not mean that they do not exist anymore.

        Do you ever ask your friends or relatives to pray for you? Better stop. It’s not in your Scriptura.

  9. Presenting the TRUTH in charity is what is see here from Shoshana… Good job and remember, that God has placed you in this very place for His own good reasons. Remember what Jesus said—–if you are my follower they will persecute you, as they persecuted Me

  10. God Bless you Shoshana!! Wonderful blog! I was born and raised Catholic but really didn’t know what it really meant to be Catholic until I was a parent. It has been an amazing awakening to learn that Protestants didn’t believe I am a Christian. The things we take for granted like 2000+ years of teachings from the most brilliant minds, isn’t something to scoff at… I feel your pain at being told what you believe. It helps to remember that these Protestants have never had the advantage of all the works of the Church Fathers. In fact, many of them have no teaching authority hierarchy at all. It is all the local pastor and his/her private interpretation and/or opinions.

    That being said, I wonder if Gabriela even read what she copied and pasted…. CCC 2010, “…Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity… CCC 2027, “Moved by the Holy Spirit… What part of this does not scream “BY THE GRACE OF GOD!!!”? What about the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent on Justification? What part of that says anything other than that we are saved by grace and we act upon it with faith and charity??? Hello??? Gabriela??? Are you trying (unsuccessfully) to try to “prove” we believe that we can earn heaven? Maybe you just don’t understand that being moved by the Holy Spirit means… I mean, if the Holy Spirit put it in your heart to have pity on the less fortunate, would you not feel compelled to help them in whatever way you could? What exactly is wrong with recognizing that allowing yourself to be a vessel of the Holy Spirit to do works that are pleasing to God is a merit… it shows that you are allowing the Lord to work through you.

    Perhaps we should begin with the baby steps here though… Catholics and Protestants speak totally different languages afterall…. We don’t concern ourselves with a salvation grocery list that you check off and finally at the end of the list, we are saved. We believe that we must carry on with life that is pleasing to God for an eternity… we believe that by ourselves we are not worthy of salvation, but our loving God provided a way for our salvation… after we get past that, then perhaps we can talk about your other gripes about what you think the Holy Catholic Church teaches…

  11. Also Shoshana I am a convert from Protestantism with a stop at agnosticism to Catholicism – if you would like to contact me please feel free. God bless you.

  12. Ever since an arrogant, rebellious Roman Catholic priest posted *his* opinions on a cathedral door, we have seen the breakdown of Christianity into warring factions. This young lady has bravely stated her experiences. I have loved many Protestant friends. However, I find that they read the Bible with what I call a “spiritual vaulting pole.” When they come to passages that disagree with that arrogant, rebellious Roman Catholic priest, they dig in the pole and leap over them.

    Remember that Jesus, Himself, tells us that at the last judgement, we will merit salvation not only through our Faith, but through the actions which are the fruits of that Faith (good tree, good fruit, bad tree, bad fruit). He will say either welcome or depart from me based on what we have *done* for others (Matthew 25:34-46). The Epistle of St. James says that faith without good works is dead. Then there is John Chapter 6. I have a Baptist friend who said she would have walked out on Christ, too. That is pretty disturbing. Satan has faith and look where he wound up. I think that is why Protestants stick to St. Paul. Except for a few statements they can easily avoid all the things Christ said that make them uncomfortable.

    Ah, and Mary, true Catholics hold her in very high esteem. Look whose Mother she is. How much honor is too much honor for the Mother of God. Yes, the Mother of God. Jesus is a divine Person with two natures. She mothered both natures. What do you suppose He thinks when He hears the vicious attacks on His Mother under the guise of respect for Him?.

    Shoshana is a courageous witness to the truth. God bless her and give her courage to continue both in her studies at Liberty and her journey, the journey we should all be making, more deeply toward the Kingdom of God.

    • I certainly agree that the Prots and Catholics can get along quite well and both are Christian. I wouldn’t go so far as saying Luther was arrogant in doing so but I get your point 😉

      • I would be shocked, Mr. Andrews, if you agreed that Luther was arrogant. He is one of the founders of your view of Christianity. I fear, though that he *was* arrogant-arrogant as “he-two-sticks.” He went to Confession, to a priest, no less, just before death, and reconciled with the Holy Mother Church he had so smugly vilified. Some people get upset that he managed to embezzle his way into the Kingdom. Personally, I am glad he did. I hate to see anyone condemn themselves to the other place, though he may have spent a long time in Purgatory as he was responsible not only for fomenting schism, but the tragic deaths of about 3,000 people.

  13. Very well done, Shoshana. You struck a great balance between explaining the Catholic faith and remaining open to listening to other Christians. Thanks.

  14. Speaking as a Catholic – Luther was not wrong on all points – the issue was not what he said but how he said it. Look at the difference between him and St Francis of Assisi. After all, St Francis of Assisi chose to work with the Magisterium and did instill change through the Fourth Lateran Council whereas Martin Luther chose to protest and work outside of it and instead instilled schism. We humans are predisposed to frailty though and not one of us can claim perfection.

  15. The rock upon which all of Christendom stands is revelation of Jesus as The Christ: the only begotten Son of the Living God. In one notable instance, Jesus recognized in Peter a primary point of revelation from God to humanity in that regard, for as Jesus said “no man has revealed this to you, but my Father in Heaven.” In that revelation there is no error–in spite of Peter himself being a mere man who would sin (and do it big time–to the point of Jesus’ calling him Satan) moments later.

    We see that in at least this instance a case where Jesus himself testified to Peter’s revelatory role in an indisputable matter while Peter himself reveals that he is as subject to sin as any man. If this can be true in one instance, it is not impossible that it could be true in all, if God himself so wills it. And so indeed, virtually all Christians believe this about the writers of inspired Scriptures–that these mere men in these instances, in spite of their human limitations and capacity for sin, could, by the holy Spirit, impart inerrant teaching about morality and the nature of the Kingdom of God.

    The ancient teachings of the church regarding apostolic authority and the force of teaching passed down are not a mere extension, but the practical practice of faith that Jesus himself told us truthfully, “upon this rock I will build my Church and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” It is by this authority that Christians can even claim that any of what we call the New Testament is indeed Holy Scripture–for had the Church not stipulated which writings do and do not belong, we would still have no definitive Bible today. Were it not so, The Gospel of Thomas or the Book of Mormon, or the collected works of Jack Chick could vie for claim alongside the Gospel of St. John. Who, other than the Church has told anyone that the Bible is complete in the form we all recognize?

    As a Catholic Christian my own experience in getting my non-Catholic siblings in Christ to at least acknowledge my own Christianity has varied from utter success to utter failure. In most instance it has hinged on whether or not the sibling in question actually believes that when Jesus prophesied / promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the church, he was absolutely, 100% correct and 100% earnest.

    I am a Christian by grace and grace alone. It is by his mercy that I have the hope of salvation and that I am called to fight the good fight, to run the race and seek the prize. May God have mercy on us all and bring us to everlasting life in Jesus.

  16. In reply to Jon Speed=—-Was Mary immaculately conceived——Yes, she was—–I could elaborate, but you wanted a yes or no answer and there it is. God bless

    2nd question–did John Paul 11 teach that Mary is Co-redemptrix—I really don’t know but I truly believe she is

  17. Imagine, if you will, hearing about some kook who insisted that Protestants worship the Bible rather than Jesus. When you ask him for some evidence of this weird belief, he pulls out from his wallet a scrap of paper with the following quote:

    “The Bible . . . has produced the highest results in all walks of life. It has led to the highest type of creations in the fields of art, architecture, literature, and music. . . . You will find everywhere the higher influence of the Bible. . . . William E. Gladstone said, ‘If I am asked to name the one comfort in sorrow, the sole rule of conduct, the true guide of life, I must point to what in the words of a popular hymn is called “the old, old story,” told in an old, old Book, which is God’s best and richest gift to mankind” (Henry Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology).

    “You see?” he screeches. “This Protestant theologian claims that the Bible, not Jesus, is “the‘one comfort,’ the ‘true guide,’ and ‘God’s best and richest gift to mankind.’ It is blatantly obvious that Protestants worship the Bible, and not Jesus Christ!”

    Silly, huh? But all information has to be presented in context, or it can be misinterpreted. This is why many times antagonists demand “yes-or-no” answers to their questions. They are not interested in better understanding the issue. They want their case, and only their case, to be clearly made. I believe that the theological merits of the Protestant and the Catholic positions speak for themselves, and I have tried my best, within the intellectual limitations God has given me, to understand them both.

    Let me try to explain the “co-redemptrix” question like this:

    As C.S. Lewis wrote, God “seems to do nothing of himself which he can possibly delegate to his creatures.” This is a belief which Catholics and Protestants share. Why are we called to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth? Because God, who could do it all by Himself, has delegated to the members of the Body of Christ the task of proclaiming the Gospel, in imitation of our Lord who went about proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Jesus died not only that our sins might be forgiven, not only that we might go to Heaven to live with Him forever “some day by and by” – His sacrifice for us on the cross literally made possible our adoption as sons and daughters of God – so, when Jesus told us to call God “Abba! Father!” He was not speaking metaphorically! He died for us that we might be made “godly,” that is to say, like our Father, “like God.” This does not mean that we will one day become God or be absorbed into the Trinity. It does mean that we are to truly become sons and daughters of God and become real “chips off the old block,” like unto Him in all things except His essence. As one early Christian theologian put it, we “become completely whatever God is [i.e. “god-ly”], save at the level of being.” II Peter 1:4 tells us that we are “partakers [literally “sharers” (koinonoi)] of the divine nature,” that is, not merely forgiven, but adopted and transformed into what He is.

    Consider verses that proclaim Christ’s exclusive ministry and function. There is only one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ – I Timothy 2:5 makes that point abundantly clear. And yet, we are called upon to mediate between God and man – every time we pray. In other words, Jesus is the one Mediator, but we are so identified with Him and with His mission as members of the Body of Christ that He allows us to share in His mediation in a limited, qualified context.

    The Bible tells us that there is only one foundation, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11); but according to Scripture there is also more than one foundation (Eph 2:19-20). We know there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ (Eph 4:4-5); but Revelation 19:16 proclaims Him King of kings and Lord of lords. James 4:12 tells us that there is only one Judge (James 4:12), and John 5:22 assures us that “the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” – and yet, Scripture tells us there is more than one judge (1 Cor 6:2-3). Jesus says He’s the one shepherd (Jn 10:16), yet this doesn’t conflict with Him making Peter shepherd over the flock (Jn 21:15-17) or with His calling others to be shepherds as well (Eph 4:11). Peter emphasizes the way Jesus shares His role as shepherd with others by calling Jesus the Chief Shepherd (thus implying lesser shepherds) (1 Pet 5:4).

    Does the Bible contradict itself? Jesus is the only Foundation; Jesus is the only Lord; Jesus is the only Judge; Jesus is our only Shepherd. But, we are members of Jesus’ Body. Therefore, we are able, according to the graces given by Christ, “Christ in me,” to share in Jesus’ role as foundation, as lord, as judge, as shepherds, and in other aspects of Christ’s ministry and mission as well. After all, He Who is the Light of the world told us, in Mt 5:14, that WE are the light of the world.

    Paul echoes this principle in I Cor 3:9: We are God’s co-workers. This is a principle on which Catholics and Protestants should have no argument.

    Now, as regards the Virgin Mary, Catholics do believe that she holds a special position in the economy of salvation, because she is “the purest, the fairest, the holiest creature of all God’s handiwork.” Note well: she is a “creature of God’s handiwork,” not a divine personage worthy of worship.

    It is in light of the above that John Paul II’s mention of Mary as co-redemptrix is to be understood. He said:

    “Moreover, when the Apostle Paul says: “For we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor 3:9), he maintains the real possibility for man to co-operate with God. The collaboration of believers, which obviously excludes any equality with him, is expressed in the proclamation of the Gospel and in their personal contribution to its taking root in human hearts. However, applied to Mary, the term ‘co-operator’ acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with the Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity.”

    However, as I believe Gina is saying, the above is not dogma. John Paul II was expressing his theological opinion. To the best of my knowledge, Benedict XVI is of the same opinion. For what it’s worth, so am I.

  18. Excellent testimony, Rene. Thanks for sharing that.

    I see that the comments this article has generated tend toward the correctness (or error) of doctrine, but seem to neglect a major point brought out in the article:

    “Martin Niemoller’s famous warning could literally come true in our generation:

    “Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I was Protestant.

    Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
    We are all Christians – we have to speak out for each other. ”

    There is a call to action here that we all should answer regardless of our understanding of doctrine–and we might be held accountable if we ignore it… or at least we may come to regret it. I urge you to follow that link to Chuck Coleson’s article. The so-called accommodation that the President unilaterally imposed is mere smoke and mirrors. We as Christians must speak now. We must bring this to light while light remains. If not, we might all face very dark times indeed. Our own government is usurping the very constitution that both empowers and restrains it.

    If today we do not “hang together” to protect our freedoms we one day will hang individually without them

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