Help my defense of my faith


I need help answering the following questions in defense of my faith. I feel undereducated in my ability to answer them and need help.

The disagreements I have encountered when discussing this with Protestants are:

Pope as the vicar of Christ
Forgiveness through priests
Exalting Mary too much
Prayers to the Saints
Salvation by grace and works.



Pope as the vicar of Christ

Forgiveness through priests

Exalting Mary too much

Can you be more specific? I mean, how do they define “too much”?

Prayers to the Saints

Salvation by grace and works.

James 2:14 anyone?
And perhaps you can show them this document co-signed by the Lutheran World Federation and Catholic Church


Just one important note:

Salvation is not by Grace and works. It is by Grace alone. The only works involved are works that are themselves Graces.

If you’re trying to defend Grace and works, well you’re going to have an awfully hard time. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless


Yes, salvation by works is the heresy of Pelagianism. Salvation in which grace and works are equal in effect is the heresy of semi-Pelagianism(right?)


Sortof. In semi-Pelagianism, man can’t save himself, but he can seek out God on his own. He can seek God and ask God to save him, whereas in orthodox thought, even man’s first desire to seek God is itself a Grace.

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on semi-Pelagianism puts it concisely:

  1. In distinguishing between the beginning of faith (initium fidei) and the increase of faith (augmentum fidei), one may refer the former to the power of the free will, while the faith itself and its increase is absolutely dependent upon God;
  1. the gratuity of grace is to be maintained against Pelagius in so far as every strictly natural merit is excluded; this, however, does not prevent nature and its works from having a certain claim to grace;
  1. as regards final perseverance in particular, it must not be regarded as a special gift of grace, since the justified man may of his own strength persevere to the end;
  1. the granting or withholding of baptismal grace in the case of children depends on the Divine prescience of their future conditioned merits or misdeeds.

This fourth statement, which is of a highly absurd nature, has never been condemned as heresy; the three other propositions contain the whole essence of Semipelagianism.

These canons from Trent basically condemn semi-Pelagianism, with the first one (canon 2) also condemning elements of Pelagianism:

CANON II.-If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

CANON XXII.-If any one saith, that the justified, either is able to persevere, without the special help of God, in the justice received; or that, with that help, he is not able; let him be anathema.

Peace and God bless


Here is some Biblical help:

Primacy of Peter
Mt 16:18 - upon this rock (Peter) I will build my church
Mt 16;19 - give you keys of the kingdom; power to bind & loose
Lk 22:32 - Peter’s faith will strengthen his brethren
Jn 21:17 - given Christ’s flock as chief shepherd
Mk 16:7 - angel sent to announce Resurrection to Peter
Lk 24:34 - risen Jesus first appeared to Peter
Acts 1:13-26 - headed meeting which elected Matthias
Acts 2:14 - led Apostles in preaching on Pentecost
Acts 2:41 - received first converts
Acts 3:6-7 - performed first miracle after Pentecost
Acts 5:1-11 - inflicted first punishment: Ananias & Saphira
Acts 8:21 - excommunicated first heretic, Simon Magnus
Acts 10:44-46 - received revelation to admit Gentiles into Church
Acts 15:7 - led first council in Jerusalem
Acts 15:19 - pronounces first dogmatic decision
Gal 1:18 - after conversion, Paul visits chief Apostle
*Gal 2:11-14 - I opposed Cephas to his face for his hypocrisy
Peter’s name always heads list of Apostles: Mt 10;14; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Acts 1:13
"Peter and his companions" Lk 9:32; Mk 16:7
Spoke for Apostles - Mt 18:21; Mk 8:29; Lk 8:45; 12:41; Jn 6:69
Peter’s name occurs 195 times, more than all the rest put together

Apostolic Succession
2 Chr 19:11 - high priest is over you in everything of Lord’s
Mal 2:7 - seek instruction from priest, he is God’s messenger
Eph 2:20 - Church built upon foundation of apostles & prophets
Eph 4:11 - God gave some as apostles, others as prophets…
1 Cor 12:28-29 - God designated in church: apostles, …
Acts 1:20 - let another take his office
Acts 1:25-26 - Matthias takes Judas’ apostolic ministry
1 Tim 3:1, 8; 5:17 - qualifications for: bishops, priests, & deacons
1Tim 4:14 - gift conferred with the laying on of hands
1Tim 5:22 - do not lay hands too readily on anyone
Acts 14:23 - they appointed presbyters in each church
2Tim 2:2 - what you heard from me entrust to faithful teachers
Titus 1:5 - appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed

Mt 9:2-8 Son of Man has authority to forgive sins
Jn 20:23 - whose sins you forgive/retain are forgiven/retained
Jn 20:22 - breathed on them, “receive Holy Spirit” [recall Gn 2:7]
2Cor 5:17-20 - given us the ministry of reconciliation
Jam 5:13-15 - confess your sins to one another
Mt 18:18 - whatever you bind & loose on earth, so it is in heaven


Lk 1:28, 30 - angel: "full of grace, found favor with God
Lk 1:42 - Elizabeth: "most blessed among women"
Lk 1:48 - Mary: “all generations will call me blessed”

Mother of God
Lk 1:43 - Elizabeth calls her “mother of my Lord” = God
Mt 1:23 - virgin bear a son, Emmanuel = "God is with us"
Lk 1:35 - child born will be called holy, the Son of God
Gal 4:4 - God sent his Son, born of a woman

The Assumption
Gn 5:24 (Hb 11:5) - Enoch taken to heaven without dying
2Kg 2:11 - Elijah assumed into heaven in fiery chariot
Mt 27:52 - many saints who had fallen asleep were raised
1Thess 4:17 - caught up to meet the Lord in the air
1Cor 15:52 - we shall be instantly changed at the last trumpet
Rom 6:23 - for the wages of sin is death
Rev 11:19-21 - ark in heaven = woman clothed in sun
Ps 132:8 - Arise, O Lord & go to thy resting place, thou & the ark of thy might

Intercessory Prayer of Saints
Rom 15:30 - join me by your prayers to God on my behalf
Col 4:3, 1Thess 5:25 - pray for us
2Thess 1:11 - we always pray for you
2Thess 3:1 - finally, brothers, pray for us
Eph 6:18-19 - making supplication for all the saints & for me
Tob 12:12 - angel presents Tobit & Sarah’s prayer to God
Ps 148 - David calls upon angels
Zech 1:12 - angel intercedes for Jerusalem
Mk 12:25, Mt 22:30 - men in heaven are as the angels
Rev 5:8 - those in heaven offer prayers of the holy ones to God
*Saints dead, prayer is necromancy (Dt 18:10-11)
Mk 12:26-27 - he is God of the living, not of the dead
Mk 9:4 - Jesus seen conversing with Elijah & Moses
Lk 9:31 - Elijah & Moses aware of earthly events
Rev 6:9-11 - martyrs under altar want earthly vindication
Heb 12:1 - we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses
Lk 16:19-30 - departed rich man intercedes for brothers
Rev 20:4 - saw the souls of those who had been beheaded
Wis 3:1-6 - the souls of the just are in the hand of God
2Macc 15:7-16 - the departed Onias & Jeremiah pray for the Jews
Jas 5:16 prayers of righteous man
1 Cor. 13:12 - I shall understand fully
1 John 4: 20-21 - whoever loves God must love his brother
1 Cor 12:21 - parts of Christ’s Body cannot say to other parts, “I do not need you”.


Faith Alone or Faith plus Works?
Jam 2:24 - a man is justified by works and not by faith alone
Jam 2:26 - faith without works is dead
Gal 5:6 - only thing that counts is faith working in love
1 Cor 13:2 - faith without love is nothing
Jn 14:15 - if you love me, keep my commandments
Mt 19:16-17 - if you wish to enter into life, keep commandments
1Tim 5:8 he who doesn’t provide for family worse than unbeliever.

Have You Been Saved?

Past Event (I have been saved)
Rom 8:24 - for in hope we were saved
Eph 2:5, 8 - by grace you have been saved through faith
2Tim 1;9 - He saved us, called us according to his grace
Tit 3:5 - He saved us through bath of rebirth, renewal by Holy Spirit

Present Process (I am being saved)
Phil 2;12 - work out your salvation with fear and trembling
1Pet 1:9 - as you attain the goal of your faith, salvation

Future Event (I will be saved)
Mt 10:22 - he who endures to the end will be saved
Mt 24:1 - he who perseveres to the end will be saved
Mk 8:35 - whoever loses his life for my sake will save it
Acts 15:11 - we shall be saved through the grace of Jesus
Rom 5:9-10 - since we are justified, we shall be saved
Rom 13:11 - salvation is nearer now than first believed
Cor 3:15 - he shall be saved, but only as through fire
1Cor 5:5 - deliver man to Satan so his spirit may be saved
Heb 9:28 - Jesus will appear second time, to bring salvation

Good Works
Mt 7:21 - not Lord, Lord but he who does the will of father
Mt 19:16-17 - to have life, keep my commandments
Jn 14:21 - he who keeps my commandments loves me
Rom 2:2-8 - eternal life by perseverance in good works
Gal 5:4-6 - nothing counts but faith working through love
Eph 2:8-10 - we are created in Christ Jesus for good works
Phil 2:12-13 - work out salvation with fear and trembling
Jam 2:14-24 - a man is justified by works & not faith alone

Judged According to Deeds
Rom 2:2-8 - eternal life by perseverance in good works
2Cor 5:10 - recompense accord to what did in body
2Cor 11:15 - their end will correspond to their deeds
1Pet 1:17 - God judges impartially according to one’s works
Rev 20:12-13 - dead judged according to their deeds
Col 3:24-25 - will receive due payment for whatever you do

Assurance of Salvation?
Mt 7:21 - not everyone saying “Lord, Lord” will inherit
Mt 24:13 - those who persevere to the end will be saved
Rom 11:22 - remain in his kindness or you will be cut off
Phil 2:12 - work out your salvation in fear and trembling
1Cor 9:27 - drive body for fear of being disqualified
1Cor 10:11-12 - those thinking they are secure may fall
Gal 5:4 - separated from Christ, you’ve fallen from grace
2Tim 2:11-13 - must hold out to the end to reign with Christ
Hb 6:4-6 - describes sharers in Holy Spirit who then fall away
Heb 10:26-27 - if sin after receiving truth, judgment remains


Follow up all the links everyone gave you. If you want a simple answer, I can give you a few.

Prayer to saints is like talking to a friend. You can speak with a friend and ask them to pray for you because they’re alive on earth. A saint is in Heaven, so if you want him to pray for you, it only makes sense that you pray - that you direct your words to them and to God (sharing your intentions). You don’t worship them, you just pray to speak with them. Nothing wrong with that - God loves to exalt his subordinates.

Here’s something from GK Chesterton (a convert TO Catholicism) about Mary - it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read in defense on her veneration which I don’t think a Protestant can answer, and it’s also incredibly funny and beautiful:

“When I was a boy a more Puritan generation objected to a statue upon my parish church representing the Virgin and Child. After much controversy, they compromised by taking away the Child. One would think that this was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a new-born child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a new-born child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a new-born child in the void or think of him without thinking of the mother; you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit…that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross”

Absolutely beautiful image of Mary and Jesus’ haloes mixing. And totally logical, emotionally, and intuitively sound.


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