Faith and Works, in Vatican II?


#1

Hello everybody,

I just had a long, exhausting conversation with one of my Baptist friends about Christianity. Exhausting because nobody has ever asked me so many questions (subtle attacks, if you want to read it that way) about Catholicism in one sitting before. Usually they just give up after a while. http://www.holyjoe.net/phpBB2/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif

One of the big questions was about salvation. He asked me what Catholics believe about salvation by faith alone. I told him that yes, we do believe that there is nothing men can do to “earn” salvation, and that is not what is meant by good works, but I’m not sure how much of that he believed.

He mentioned having read something in a Vatican II document explicitly stating that men are saved by faith *and *works. I’m sorry I don’t have any more details, but that was all he could give me, and I’ve never read any of the Vatican II documents, so I have no idea where I could start looking. It bothered him that one of our authoritative documents would teach something so clearly heretical (why that bothers him, when he believes that the Bible is the ONLY authority, is beyond me, but that’s another story).

I told him that what he had read was most likely a misunderstanding, a misquote, or a truncated quote, and I said I’d do some research and get back to him.

Only trouble is, I don’t know where to start looking. Typing in “Vatican II faith and works” into a search engine just gets me nowhere, as the only links that pop up are Protestant websites bashing Catholicism for decreeing that salvation is earned by works… http://www.holyjoe.net/phpBB2/images/smiles/icon_sad.gif

Can anyone help me, or recommend a good place to start looking?

Thanks!


#2

“Are you saved?” asks the Fundamentalist. The Catholic should reply: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).”

catholic.com/library/***…f_Salvation.asp

Reward and Merit - Catholic Answers Tract - catholic.com/library/Reward_and_Merit.asp

Paul tells us: “For [God] will reward every man according to his works: to those who by perseverance in working good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. There will be . . . glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality” (Rom. 2:6–11; cf. Gal. 6:6–10).

Lets not forget:

James 2:14 - What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him?

Hope this helps


#3

Hello Linda,

Have you asked your Protestant freind, “What must I do to share in everlasting life?” Does Jesus tell us to do works of obedience, if we wish to enter into life through him, or not?

The way people go to heaven is through Jesus, the reason people go to heaven is because they love God and love for God is accomplished through free from the will of God obedience to the will of God.

Pease visit: Jesus, What Must I Do To Share In Everlasting Life?

NAB MAR 10:17 "Good Teacher, what must I do to share in everlasting life?" Jesus answered, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments:

'You shall not kill;
You shall not commit adultery;
You shall not steal;
You shall not bear false witness;
You shall not defraud;
Honor your father and your mother.’"

I have heard that from Martin Luther on down, the Protestants claim that Jesus teaching was nullified after, and because of, His death. Now they focus on St. Paul’s post ressurection teachings where obeying the commandments, as Jesus teaches for salvation, is no longer needed. St. Peter warns us to be careful with St. Paul’s writings because the ignorant can distort St. Paul’s writings to their own distruction.

NAB 2PE 3:14 Preparation for the Coming. So, beloved, while waiting for this, make every effort to be found without stain or defilement, and at peace in his sight. Consider that our Lord’s patience is directed toward salvation. Paul, our beloved brother, wrote you this in the spirit of wisdom that is his, dealing with these matters as he does in all his letters. There are certain passages in them hard to understand. The ignorant and the unstable distort them (just as they do the rest of Scripture) to their own ruin. You are forewarned, beloved brothers. Be on your guard lest you be led astray by the error of the wicked, and forfeit the security you enjoy.

Peace in Christ,

Steven Merten
www.ILOVEYOUGOD.com


#4

[quote=Lida]Hello everybody,

He mentioned having read something in a Vatican II document explicitly stating that men are saved by faith *and *works. I’m sorry I don’t have any more details, but that was all he could give me, and I’ve never read any of the Vatican II documents, so I have no idea where I could start looking.
[/quote]

Ask your interlocutor to identify the “saved by faith and works” passage, since he brought it up. Catholics do believe that there is congruent merit in good works. Many people confuse this with “working our way to Heaven.”

You can’t go wrong by familiarizing yourself with the Documents of the Second Vatican Council:
vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/index.htm
and the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
scborromeo.org/ccc.htm


#5

I agree with Mercygate.

I’d add further, that since your friend brought up the “passage”, it’s in his ballpark to provide the documentation. Sure, it’s good for you to read the documents yourself, but why should you have to try to figure out which document said what, when for all you know there might be dozens of references to check out?

He read it, he can find it again. And if it’s so important that he brought it up to you as a sort of proof against us Catholics, he should be able to find it and reference it rather quickly.

Don’t be intimidated into doing his work for him. Don’t be intimidated into going into all sorts of extra work yourself when you might be attempting to prove a negative, or trying to refute something which might not even exist!


#6

[quote=Tantum ergo]I agree with Mercygate.

I’d add further, that since your friend brought up the “passage”, it’s in his ballpark to provide the documentation. Sure, it’s good for you to read the documents yourself, but why should you have to try to figure out which document said what, when for all you know there might be dozens of references to check out?

He read it, he can find it again. And if it’s so important that he brought it up to you as a sort of proof against us Catholics, he should be able to find it and reference it rather quickly.

Don’t be intimidated into doing his work for him. Don’t be intimidated into going into all sorts of extra work yourself when you might be attempting to prove a negative, or trying to refute something which might not even exist!
[/quote]

:thumbsup: Go git 'em Tantum!


#7

Thanks so much for your answers; they were really encouraging after what was really my first experience as an apologist. (As you can see… I have a lot of work left to do.)

I haven’t been able to respond to my friend yet (college finals are currently having fun destroying my life), but I will certainly use your ideas to help me.

I was pretty wary of accepting that statement of the mysterious Vatican II document, too. I asked him, several times, if he remembered where he read it or in what context, but he said he didn’t remember. I’ll ask him to find it again for me, and until he does, I’ll assume that it was a misquote.

Merry Christmas, everybody! :slight_smile:
Lida


#8

[quote=Lida]Hello everybody,

Only trouble is, I don’t know where to start looking. Typing in “Vatican II faith and works” into a search engine just gets me nowhere, as the only links that pop up are Protestant websites bashing Catholicism for decreeing that salvation is earned by works… http://www.holyjoe.net/phpBB2/images/smiles/icon_sad.gif

Can anyone help me, or recommend a good place to start looking?

Thanks!
[/quote]

Lida

For many Catholics the terminology of salvation,repentance, works/faith ect belongs to another era and causes more trouble than it is worth unless you have a real burning desire for circular arguments. Those who totally oppose the simple faith/belief of any sort exploit this division in Christianity which is why the empirical view often resorts to Protestant fundamentalist terminology in order to facilitate an artificial division between science/religion.

One of the best views on denominational differences is from William James at a time when phychobabble as a scientific discipline was just beginning.

ccel.org/ccel/james/varieties.xvi.html


#9

“Works Salvation” was condemned as a heresy at both the Council of Orange (597) and the Council of Trent (1545-63). Here’s Trent:

ON JUSTIFICATION CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

JMJ Jay


#10

Don’t forget to quote James 2:24:

**“You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” **(Protestant RSV translation)

No wonder Luther took James out of the NT canon. It disproves “Sola Fide.”

JMJ Jay


#11

[quote=Katholikos]“Works Salvation” was condemned as a heresy at both the Council of Orange (597) and the Council of Trent (1545-63). Here’s Trent:

ON JUSTIFICATION CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

JMJ Jay
[/quote]

Oh come off it !,everyone was an anathema to these guys.

history.hanover.edu/texts/trent.html

Why ,for goodness sake,would an intelligent and good person find the fifth session on original sin to be anything less than an over-reaction in terms of history of the era.


#12

Ask your Baptist friend if he/she knows the origin of the doctrine of “salvation by faith alone.” Jesus and the Apostles didn’t teach it. It was unheard of in the whole history of Christianity until one day . . .

"His [Luther’s] ‘thunderbolt’ idea that faith alone was sufficient for salvation came, in his own words, as ‘knowledge the Holy Spirit gave me on the privy in the tower.’ "

TRIUMPH, The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church – A 2,000 Year History, H.W. Crocker III, Forum, Prima Publishing, Roseville, CA, 2001, p. 237, quoting William Manchester, A World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance.


#13

[quote=oriel36]Oh come off it !,everyone was an anathema to these guys.

history.hanover.edu/texts/trent.html

Why ,for goodness sake,would an intelligent and good person find the fifth session on original sin to be anything less than an over-reaction in terms of history of the era.
[/quote]

The language of Trent can be off-putting but once you pierce through the panic, the content is the timeless teaching of the Church. That goes for the teaching on original sin.

Remember, these people actually BELIEVED in God, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, and the mission of the Church to gather as many souls into the divine embrace as she can.

Only to the tepid, or perhaps someone on the receiving end of one of thouse anathemas, could any of the Tridentine canons be judged an over-reaction. Again, I urge anyone to do a “Dragnet” on these canons and evaluate “just the facts.” Trent distills the constant teaching of the Church.


#14

Catholicism does not teach “Faith ALONE” for Salvation. Nor does it teach “Works ALONE” for salvation.

Justification is a Gift of God by GRACE. Man has a free response to God’s Grace, which can be rejected or accepted. Man accepts God’s Grace through responding in FAITH and WORKS. Both are needful for Salvation as James and Jesus teach.

Read the parable of the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25. Jesus does not teach Faith ALONE here, does he?

The Main verse used by Luther and Protestants to teach Faith Alone is this:

Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

But does it say “faith alone” ?

No. It says faith apart from deeds of the law . . . .

This is the Jewish Law of rituals, circumcision and sacrifices.

when good works are present along with faith, then faith is a living faith, and faith and works together justify us leading towards salvation . .

Otherwise faith is a dead faith as described in James 2, and can do nothing for us, no more than good works without faith can do anything for us.

The teaching of “Faith Alone” is dangerous, since someone may wrongly thnk they have faith. But without good works, their “faith” will not save them. However if they have what they think is faith, they may very easily and wrongly conclude that they are saved . . . and end up in hell . . .

In the parable of Matthew 25 both the sheep and goats have Faith, they both call Jesus “Lord”. But only the Sheep have Works . . . Only the Sheep get to go to Heraven.

The Goats, do NOT have Works . . . The Goats go to Hell!


#15

With regard to Trent. The following Canons are instructive that Faith Alone is not taught by the Church.

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. CANON XXI.-If any one saith, that Christ Jesus was given of God to men, as a redeemer in whom to trust, and not also as a legislator whom to obey; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.


#16

[quote=mercygate]The language of Trent can be off-putting but once you pierce through the panic, the content is the timeless teaching of the Church. That goes for the teaching on original sin.

Remember, these people actually BELIEVED in God, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, and the mission of the Church to gather as many souls into the divine embrace as she can.

Only to the tepid, or perhaps someone on the receiving end of one of thouse anathemas, could any of the Tridentine canons be judged an over-reaction. Again, I urge anyone to do a “Dragnet” on these canons and evaluate “just the facts.” Trent distills the constant teaching of the Church.
[/quote]

Catholics would be better off getting a feel for the era in which Trent was convened and especially recognising the political nature of Pope Paul III (and son).

newadvent.org/cathen/11579a.htm

Look,this happens to be the most intelligent forum I have seen on the usenet insofar as there are more pragmatic people here than the usual indoctrinated, mantra chanting tendencies seen from the funadamentalist side.I am very much a Catholic which means that tepidness does not extend to a historical whitewashing which you have chosen to color your response.

The creationists are ultimately harmless when it comes to Judaeo-Christian symbolism however those canons which you hold dear on original sin are anything but harmless,they are destructive , a nuisance and a product of thinking which looks like it took Dante’s descriptions of Heaven and hell as tangible descriptions rather than symbolic of Spititual states.


#17

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