Two-fer Tuesday!

I have a couple of short thoughts for the day, so I thought I’d squeeze them both into one post:

1) Is it harder or easier for Catholics to get to Heaven? Or does that question reveal ignorance of God’s salvation plan?

Last night I was perusing through the Catholic news headlines and came across the Q&A column below from Catholic priest, Kenneth Doyle (photo left). Someone sent in a letter to the priest asking if Catholics have a harder time attaining Heaven “because more is given” to them and therefore more is expected. Evangelicals’ spiritual antennae should go up whenever someone discusses merit as being a part of salvation. The priest responds that Catholics definitely have a “head start” over others in the salvation derby because they “have access to abundant graces through the seven sacraments that help us to live as God wants.” Doyle’s comments don’t line up with Scripture. He starts off by claiming “the vast majority of the people God created will wind up in heaven,” which is certainly not in accordance with the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:13-14. He describes salvation as a process that’s ultimately dependent on obedience and charity, but God’s Word says, “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” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Salvation is either by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, as Scripture says, or salvation is by sacramental grace and merit as priest Doyle and his church claim. It’s either one way or the other. Both ways cannot be right.

Is it harder for Catholics to get to heaven?

2) Christians and patriotic statues

There’s a lot of turmoil in the nation regarding race relations after the recent incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia, followed by President Trump’s controversial remarks. In light of what happened in Charlottesville, many communities in the South are assessing whether monuments to Confederate political and military heroes are inappropriate. I’ve learned that many of the statues in question were erected in the 1920s as part of Ku Klux Klan-inspired initiatives and during the 1950s and 1960s as a protest against the Civil Rights legislation that was being enacted throughout the nation during that time. I question whether Christians should ever be involved in erecting monuments to men and women. We are certainly grateful to the Lord for raising up individuals who benefit the church and the country we sojourn in, but we must be cautious that we do not idolize them. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All need the Savior. For many Americans, patriotism and nationalism are important elements of a civil religion (see here) that’s not in accord with genuine Christianity. What are your thoughts on statues and monuments to Confederate leaders? Knowing the Bible as you hopefully do, what do you think Jesus would say about such monuments?

I came across the satirical article below from the Babylon Bee, which ties in with the recent toppling/removal of Confederate statues in some cities (photo right). It may not be in the best of taste given the seriousness of the recent debate over said statues, but I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw it. Leave it to the Babylon Bee to boldly go where few would dare!

Angry Arminian Mob Pulls Down Statue Of John Calvin

Absolutely no disrespect meant to my Arminian and Calvinist friends! I’m in the middle of the Arminianism-Calvinism debate.

14 thoughts on “Two-fer Tuesday!

  1. You have made yet another excellent point, my friend! I’ve been uneasy about the uproar of statues. I recognize the need for civility, and would never condone such destruction, but it does raise a deeper question for the Christian. Are we idolizing this nation? I walk a difficult line not idolizing my husband, and my daughter. Placing God above all else is a primary focus, the moment I turn away from that focus I seem to stumble. Idolizing anything sets people up for a huge disappointment.

    I have a question for you as to your first point, I hope my weird random questions do not become an annoyance. I understand there are 7 sacraments, but two of them are becoming a priest, or getting married. How do Catholics reconcile the inability to achieve all 7 sacraments? Or is the achievement of them not the goal?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, sister friend! It’s obviously just my opinion, but I think if we as Christians are proponents of erecting statues to political and military leaders, we may be just a tad too attached to this world. 🙂 As you mention, we can also esteem any number of people and things more than the Lord. Christians are famous for preacher idolatry. I was involved with that a bit after I first trusted in Jesus. But Christians in America have a real hard time separating church from the nation, which you mentioned in your post today.

      Naw, I’m always happy to answer a question, if I can. I should write a long post on the sacraments because they are so essential (most of them, anyway) to Catholic salvation. Yes, baptism, eucharist, and confession are viewed as essential with last rites seen as a nice insurance policy if a priest can make it to the Catholic’s death bed. Confirmation is the step-child sacrament, seen as the affirmation of baptism. Marriage and ordination are extras. A Catholic can merit salvation without either one but the church certainly claims that the graces conferred from both are a big help. Priest Doyle in the article said priests receive graces from saying mass every day that aren’t available to the layperson. I’m sure the church of yesteryear desired that its members either be in religious vocations (preferred) or married. Being a single non-religious was not a desirable option and the sacramental system reflected that.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for always answering, I truly appreciate it! I want to be prepared, in love and grace, if I encounter a Catholic whom I can share the gospel with. Just reading the list of sacraments is heart breaking, it must be an exhausting faith to be involved in. The hope I have is solely based on faith in Christ, in His sacrifice. I can rest in that. No wonder the world is so full of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I’m a bit biased, being an ex-Catholic, but I believe all evangelicals would do well by keeping an eye on Rome and being on guard against evangelical pastors and para-church leaders who recommend ecumenism with Rome. Most churches will end up headed in that direction.

        Right, I can only barely remember how it felt thinking I had to merit my salvation day after day, year after year. Most Catholics have given up and don’t even attend church. Catholics purposely keep the sin hurdle very low in contrast to Jesus’ definition in Matthew 5:21-30, otherwise they know they would have no chance of thinking they could merit salvation. It’s the Holy Spirit Who reveals our true sin condition through the Word and our need of the Savior. We would always think we’re doing fine without His illumination. Sorry, I know I’m preaching to the choir.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting question, Tom. I am ambivalent about it in many ways. Tearing statues down like a common mob is stupid. What is more stupid is anybody who draws some link between supporting such statues and any other person’s Christian faith. The whole tendency to tie people’s overall political stances with the nature of their faith really rankles me. For example, a guy told me that any decent Christian has to be pro gun. Huh? Where’s THAT verse? Don’t misunderstand me, I have no problem with guns, and have a couple around. But I don’t have to be an NRA supporter to be a Christian. I don’t have to support a wall on the border to be one either. Now let’s jump to the other side where the complete opposite arguments are made. You have to be anti gun to be a real Christian, and support opening the borders wide for all comers. Do you see what I mean here, Tom. I probably sound like I am ranting, but a whole bunch of things are being connected to Christian faith that have nothing to do with it.

    Rant over, thanks for the space my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Wally. The church has always struggled with determining its proper relationship with the state. I’m aware my views would be considered “radical” by most American Christians. The post was admittedly provocative but sharing of views is good. Our oldest son is a big Washington Redskins fan and there’s been a lot of controversy over that name. I say the name has to go while he says it’s taking political correctness to the extreme. We’ll see.

      I agree we can’t impose litmus tests for activities not clearly defined in Scripture. But I think the church went way too far in mixing faith and patriotism over the years, which resulted in many Christians prioritizing the world over the Kingdom. Thanks for the feedback, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tom. Just recently in our work we faced such an issue. Sadly, several times over some decades actual resolutions had been passed specifically excluding African Americans. Much to our discredit and very wrong. This year a resolution was passed clearly overturning and reversing that. Well done on that. However, the messengers argued for over a day on whether to just overturn it or actually apologize for the past. I agree with the end resolution which actually included a statement that what had been done was wrong. I know we today may not have done these awful things, but a simple acknowledgement of them would go a long way sometimes. I happen to agree the Redskins name is problematic.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks for the example, Wally. Yes, I think it’s sometimes really difficult for the majority to grasp the pain that was inflicted against minorities in the past. Even among Christians here at WP I see attitudes like, “Too bad. That’s the way it’s always been done and if it was good enough for Grandpa, it’s good enough for me,” etc. The country has to sort through things like those monuments, which are offensive to many African Americans. And, as some people ask, how far do you go with it, because Washington and Jefferson were slave owners? I’d like to think that I’m adopting more of a “pilgrim” attitude in regards to this country, but it’s where I live and I still care about what happens here.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree Tom. I care deeply for this country. The statue thing is hard because as you pointed out…how far do we go? It might help a lot when we say leave them because they are history if we just also acknowledged the bad history as well. The pain and wrongness was very real and even today discrimination is real.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. This Confederate monument controversy has to play itself out, but I think the pressure to remove them is going to be relentless now that the horse is out of the barn, so to speak. It’s ironic that the Charlottesville demonstrators stoked support for the anti-monument folks, the last thing they wanted.


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