Isn’t it amazing how popular the phrase, “Whatever,” has become? Some suggest it took off with the 1995 movie, “Clueless.“ You could rightly say that the back-handed, dismissive term has become emblematic of our self-absorbed society. It’s as if the speaker is saying, “Don’t bother me with your viewpoint or any details. MY opinion is all that I care about.”
But for some things in life, especially some VERY important things, it’s not a case of “whatever.” Details can be important and even life saving.
On our last trip to Europe to visit our German grandson, my wife and I took a side excursion to Zurich, Switzerland. Yes, I wanted to visit the Grossmünster church where Swiss Reformer, Huldrych Zwingli, preached every Sunday. Anyway, we successfully drove the autobahn to Zurich and our hotel despite more than a few challenges. In the morning, we consulted the concierge for directions to the train station and scurried off. Not being familiar with the city or the German language, there were a few “mishaps.” At one point, the commuter train we had mistakenly boarded was headed in the opposite direction of our desired Old Town destination. My point is that some things in this life are not “whatever.” It’s very important that you get on the correct train if you want to arrive at your desired destination.
The same can be said of spiritual matters. In this era, when relativism and plurality are king, the pervasive opinion is that “whatever religious beliefs work for you is fine.” This attitude is even infecting the church. The Bible, God’s Word, is no longer the standard. Case in point is Roman Catholicism. Many evangelicals hear Catholics say they also believe in “grace,” “faith,” and “Jesus the Savior,” and conclude, “Good enough!” If you point out to those evangelicals that Catholics believe something diametrically opposed to the Gospel in regards to HOW a person is saved, the response of many is a disinterested, “Whatever.”
I’m certainly not a theologian, but it might be helpful to borrow some theological shorthand to clarify the major difference between how evangelicals and Catholics view salvation in order to see past this dangerously indifferent “whatever” attitude.
- Track #1 – The Catholic view: Catholics believe God literally “infuses” grace into their soul from the sacraments, actually transforming them into a better person so that they can obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and continue in a “state of grace” so as to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics say with the help of the sacraments they can become “intrinsically” righteous, i.e., actually such a good, outstanding person in and of themselves that they are able to attain Heaven through their own divinely-assisted merits.
- Track #2 – The Biblical, evangelical view: Christians believe in the depravity of man. As the Bible says, there is none righteous, no not one. But when a person repents of their sin and accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone, the Lord “imputes” His perfect righteousness to that person. We are made righteous only by the righteousness of Christ. The Reformers used a legal term, “forensic” righteousness, to describe this glorious spiritual transaction. God the Father, the Perfect and Holy Judge, declares a repentant sinner righteous and justified based solely upon their acceptance of Christ as Savior by faith alone and the imputed perfect righteousness of His Son.
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21
Do you understand the difference? They are actually two completely opposite paths. One is right and one is wrong. It’s not a case of “whatever.” Just as getting on the wrong train will NOT enable a person to arrive at their desired destination, following the Catholic system of infused sacramental grace and alleged subjective intrinsic righteousness will NOT lead to salvation.
Catholic friend, repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Evangelical friend, Roman Catholics are following a false religious system of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Reach out to them with the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.