A few days ago I received a small, colorful little pamphlet. It was well written and in my opinion was quite attractive, I wanted to open it. Inside I was taken through a series of pages that lead me to the penultimate page that told me that I was assured salvation if I proclaimed that Christ is Lord. Just to be honest, I knew that was where this little pamphlet was headed towards, and I was hurt. I am guessing this was placed where I could find it by someone who believes Catholics are not saved…or even Christian.
This always makes me sad first, mad second. I do get mad, mainly because knowing that I am Catholic, the black clothes with white collar gives it away, they must believe that we need salvation. We have all run into this in our lives, and we should not shy away from giving answer; if you have been shy you need to be more vocal about the faith Christ has gifted you!
But how do we respond? I really wish I had some small pamphlets to leave around the area I found the one I now possess. I am sure someone makes them, I just do not have one. But this all got me thinking about what I would put in a small pamphlet if I had the time to write it.
First, I would state an undeniable truth, the Catholic Church has been in existence since the time of the apostles, Christ founded it Himself.
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it1
There are many that will question this, whether or not Jesus is founding the Church on Peter, or on his faith. My question is, how can you take Peters faith from him? Can you separate Peter’s faith from Peter? On this rock, even if it was his faith (it is not) would still be Peter’s faith. But the word play here is “rock”, which is Petra, Peter, and thereby Jesus is founding his church on the first of the apostles, Peter.
Next I would speak about the authority of scripture, which is where the author of my little pamphlet got his thoughts on salvation. The bible was inspired by God, written by Catholics (New Testament), and then canonized by Catholics. If there were Baptists there in the 4th century someone needs to supply proof of their presence. So if scripture was of God through Catholics, who better to explain it’s contents but Catholics; specifically the Church. Questions about what is “in” or not “in” scripture, and what it means, can only be answered by one source, the Catholic Church. All other churches hold votes on what scripture says, could anyone please find in scripture where God takes a vote on what He wants done?
… because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 2Romans 10:9
This is one of the favorite verses used by protestants to assure themselves of salvation. We should look first at what Paul is speaking of. Paul is confronted by Jews who turned Christian who make the claim that without circumcision there is no hope of salvation. Paul is trying to teach that there needs be no outward work done to believe, we have but to say, “I believe”. All Catholics at every baptism and confirmation are required publicly to make this proclamation. But is this the end? Is this all we need for salvation? If it is then why does Christ give the apostles the ability to forgive sins? If all that needs to be done is to proclaim Christ, then there needs to be no absolution, just proclamation. Why do we need baptism at all for that matter, there just needs to be a proclamation. Why does Christ ask us to enter by the narrow door? If all who proclaim Christ are saved, sounds like there better be a large door to heaven for all that will be entering. Why does the rich young man have to sell all he has? Why not just proclaim his faith? In fact, if salvation by proclamation is the rule, we only need Romans 10 and perhaps the Beatitudes in the New Testament, all else seems unnecessary if we can simply proclaim and be saved.
Instead, it would seem that the sacraments are the door to salvation, as we see in John:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” 59 This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. 3John 6:53-59
All through the Bible we see either the pre-configuration of the sacraments or the sacraments themselves being shown as the way to heaven. Jesus is baptized, Jesus participates in the marriage at Cana, Jesus speaking of the Eucharist, Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon the disciples to ordain them, Jesus giving the apostles the ability to forgive sins, Jesus being anointed before His crucifixion, and finally the apostles confirming believers and sending them out for ministry.
Scripture, if taken as an entirety, is all about sacraments. The catholic Church just so happens to be all about sacraments. This has lead many over the 2000 years since Christ to make the proclamation that it is only through the Catholic Church that we can be saved. We need to be pastoral but vocal on this matter.
1Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Mt 16:18). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
2Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Ro 10:8–9). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
3Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Jn 6:53–59). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.