Heresy Questions

So I was reading the tract on heresy found, but I think I came away more confused than before. First (and perhaps the easier question), I wanted more information about Jansenism. As someone who describes himself as Reformed, I think the doctrine of limited atonement makes sense. Is this the same doctrine as Jansenism, and does anyone know the reasons for its condemnation?

Second, I wanted to know what is the state of Protestant souls since we hold to sola scriptura. I assume since most Protestants never received a valid baptism we aren’t technically committing heresy, but we do hold to a belief that the CC has condemned. By this tract’s definition, I think we are committing some form of incredulity. But is this incredulity enough to keep us from being saved in the end, or can something akin to Rahner’s “Anonymous Christian” be in effect even though we know and reject the truth of the CC? I have heard so many contradictory things in this regard, that I would like to have some official answers.

This is a forum of unofficial answers, otherwise known as opinions.

If you know the truth you must embrace it, accept it.

Most Protestant baptisms are valid.

There is a difference between a formal heretic and a material heretic. Are you aware of the difference?

Only God knows the secret of the soul. A pocket Catholic catechism I used to carry asked the question, “What must I do to be saved”. I think in essence that is your question. The answer given is, “To be saved I must woship God in faith, hope and love”. The purpose for which we are all made is to love and be loved. That is why you exist. It is reflected in the two great commandments Jesus gives, to love God and neighbor. Notice the act is the same in both, but the object of love is different.

If you love, all who love, have love, are of God who is love. The question we need to ask ourselves is not if we do this or that, belong to this group or that one, will we be saved. The question we need to ask is do we love.

The answer is found in scripture. “If a man loves me he will obey my commands”. And Saint John writes, “The love of God consists in this, that we obey His commandments”. Obedience and love are tied. My conscience tells me I could stand some improvement in the obedience department. I am a sinner. The Church helps me with her sacraments in overcoming my sins. They are a source of grace, the power that frees us.

I hope you find salvation, are able to love God and neigbor and fulfill this divine purpose of our existance.

If you are incredulous, why is that? That is an interesting thing for someone to say of himself.

The CCC will give you the answers you seek. Jansenism is here…

I attended a Nazarene church with my parents as a child…Nazarenes aren’t of the “Reformed” tradition and do not embrace a “limited atonement”. They are Arminian instead of Calvinist…“Reformed” is more Calvinisht…and “limited atonement” is the “L” in TULIP…a Calvinist construct.

First, I was trying to use terminology and categories as described in the tract. I do not view myself as incredulous; I was merely trying to identify where the Catholic Church would say I was.

That is my confusion in a nutshell. I know that I hold to a belief that the Catholic Church has proclaimed as false ,(sola scriptura, but to the best of my knowledge, I do not think the Church has proclaimed the truth in this. So I was just trying to ascertain what the status of my soul is if I hold to this belief.

I am aware that a distinction exists, but not of what that distinction entails.

I agree entirely with your thoughts about love. But while this answer satisfies me on one level, at another it misses the point. As a Protestant, I have seen God work powerfully, and I have seen people love God (and neighbor) with all their heart, soul, and might. But they hold to beliefs that necessarily separate them from the Catholic Church (to a greater or lesser degree). One of the commands Christ gives us is to be united. Either the fault is with the Catholic Church who barricade the way to communion due to unessential differences (The Protestant opinion) or the fault is with the Protestants who obstinately hold to unessential beliefs which the Catholic Church has justly defined as wrong (The Catholic opinion), or some mixture of the two. Someone is being uncharitable, so the question “Am I a heretic for holding this belief?” is related to the question of “Do I love?”

Thank-you. I hope you are as well.

Perhaps I should be more clear. I describe myself as reformed, but I am a Nazarene. You are absolutely correct, the Nazarene Church explicitly rejects the formulation TULIP. However, though I have sympathies with Calvinism and think it makes sense, I do not hold to those beliefs. I actually am in the process of describing myself less and less “reformed” for those very reasons. I would never teach the doctrine of Calvinism against the wishes of my denomination, and I would give up the doctrine forever if asked to by my pastor.

Thanks. i don’t think you intended to help me through your post but you did.


Have you seriously tried to disprove sola scriptural? You will be standing verse against verse, now who decides which is the true way?

Interesting you adhere to sola scriptural yet yeild to sola denomination.:slight_smile:

Holding to the doctrine of SS does not say anything about whether a person’s soul is in a state of Grace or not.

What makes you think most Protestants never received a valid baptism? I think the opposite is true.

In order to commit heresy, one must first believe and adhere to the Truth, then willfully and knowingly embrace a doctrine different than what the Apostles’ believed and taught. Most modern Protestants have very little knowledge of what the Apostles actually believed and taught, since they come from a faith tradition that has been separated from those beliefs for 500 years.

Incredulity only occurs when one is aware of the Truth, pursuaded that it is True, but willfully chooses not to act according to their conviction about what is true.

My pleasure!

I have realized that sola scriptura does not mean that only Scripture contains doctrine or that Scripture is the only authority. There are a variety of doctrines that are not delineated one way or another. But even the “clear” issues have been thought through, and I would be foolish not to benefit from generations of wisdom and try to use myself as the sole interpreter of Scripture. Sola Scriptura in the best light means that Scripture is the highest authority to which all other authorities must defer. I think this openness to other authorities besides Scripture is why I am drawn to the Catholic Church. My own interpretation of Scripture is not authoritative, and it is hard to beat the pedigree of the Catholic Church.:slight_smile:

Thank-you, this was an immense help in clearing up the confusion around terminology and how Protestants relate to these categories.
I would say that from the Catholic perspective, a Protestant baptism is not valid. I was baptized by a non-Catholic who is separated from the Catholic Church, and thus I was not baptized into the CC (nor was my baptism ever intended to do such). If it is true that the CC is the only true Church of Christ (or the only church that is fully such), then it is impossible for me to see how my baptism was my entrance into the Body of Christ, unless it was the “baptism by desire” but I did not think the definition of heresy extended to those who were baptized by desire and not by water as well.

I care because I am trying to explore whether I can believe what the Catholic Church teaches. If the CC taught that Protestants were formal heretics who could not be in the state of grace, then I probably could not believe what the Church taught. Thanks to this thread, I think that this is one less barrier to me becoming Catholic:thumbsup:

I reread my previous post and an “unessential” crept into my description of the Catholic position which should not have been there. I agree that there are real differences between Protestants and Catholics, and when I talk of essential doctrines I really have tried to say something meaningful. I tend to view the Nicene Creed as the “least common denominator” of all Christian beliefs, meaning to disagree with the Creed and claiming Christianity is a logical impossibility. Unfortunately, the Creed does not tell us everything (i.e. the presence of Christ in the Eucharist). These differences are real and essential barriers to unity, but I would hesitate to ascribe any other belief the same category defining power that the Creed has. Does that make any sense?

Catholics are very generous in what they consider a valid baptism:

Read this:

Basically, if you use natural water, and the baptism is in the name of the Trinity, and with proper intentions, it’s considered a valid baptism even if done outside of the Catholic Church.

Sort of off-topic but I wanted to discuss this point.

Most Protestants I know would actually agree with the fact that perfect love is essential in salvation. Where trouble arises is in the “logistics” of the salvation process. If Luther taught that justification is by faith alone and “justification = salvation” then the doctrine sola fide is profoundly inefficient. But if Luther taught justification by faith alone and “justification = part of the salvation process” then we can say that love and hope are necessary parts of the salvation process, maybe not to justification but to sanctification and glorification.

However, I am not convinced by Luther’s central metaphor of Imputed Righteousness, and most other Protestants would agree with Luther. But I think this metaphor makes little sense. It teaches that Christ’s righteousness is an alien entity through which God views the sinner; I would have no problem with this except that this metaphor does not work in describing the saints in heaven. In heaven we are transformed and Christ’s Righteousness is somehow now their own. This seems like either imparted or infused righteousness. Well if that is how the saints are righteous, then why can’t righteousness be imparted and infused while on earth? Virtue ethics teaches that the theological virtues are infused into the soul (something many Protestants hold). Since I have no problem with infusion of virtue, I have no problem with infusion of righteousness. And once I realized this, it is only a short step to “justification by works.”

Thank the Lord for that:)

Sola Scriptura in the best light means that Scripture is the highest authority to which all other authorities must defer.

It is a redefinition only if one considers what Lutherans believed it was from the start is a redefinition. The understanding has always been that sola scriptura is a practice of holding teachings, doctrines and dogmas accountable to scripture is the original definition.
From the Formula of Concord:

  1. We believe, teach, and confess that the sole rule and standard according to which all dogmas together with [all] teachers should be estimated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament alone, as it is written Ps. 119:105: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And St. Paul: Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed, Gal. 1:8.

2] Other writings, however, of ancient or modern teachers, whatever name they bear, must not be regarded as equal to the Holy Scriptures, but all of them together be subjected to them, and should not be received otherwise or further than as witnesses, [which are to show] in what manner after the time of the apostles, and at what places, this [pure] doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved.

3] 2. And because directly after the times of the apostles, and even while they were still living, false teachers and heretics arose, and symbols, i. e., brief, succinct [categorical] confessions, were composed against them in the early Church, which were regarded as the unanimous, universal Christian faith and confession of the orthodox and true Church, namely, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, we pledge ourselves to them, and hereby reject all heresies and dogmas which, contrary to them, have been introduced into the Church of God.

The notion that the Lutheran reformers thought sola scriptura meant they could only appeal to scripture is just not the case. The Lutheran confessions are full of references to the early Church, the councils and creeds, and the ECF’s. In fact, the first section of the Book of Concord contains the 3 ecumenical Creeds, and this is not by accident.
It may not be the hermeunetics that the Catholic Church practices, but it also is not sol***o*** scriptura.


Let me ask you this, Taestron. From your understanding of Catholicism, if a Protestant is baptized using water, using the Trinitarian formula, does he need to be baptized again if he wants to become Catholic?

We answer with the words of Christ, “Strive to enter”.

Regarding the “status of your soul”–that is not for us to determine.

But they hold to beliefs that necessarily separate them from the Catholic Church (to a greater or lesser degree). One of the commands Christ gives us is to be united. Either the fault is with the Catholic Church who barricade the way to communion due to unessential differences (The Protestant opinion) or the fault is with the Protestants who obstinately hold to unessential beliefs which the Catholic Church has justly defined as wrong (The Catholic opinion), or some mixture of the two.

What are the “essential” differences, Taestron? And how do you know?

Someone is being uncharitable, so the question “Am I a heretic for holding this belief?”

Only the original reformers can be charged with the sin of heresy.

From our Catechism:

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers … All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

What happened at your baptism (if it was in the Trinitarian form, utilizing correct matter) is that God claimed you as one of his. What you can “see” or “is impossible for you to see” is irrelevant to what occurred at your baptism (provided it was valid)

The universe was changed forever at your baptism, Taestron! What existed 30 seconds prior to this miraculous exorcism exists no more for posterity! An indelible mark was placed on your soul for eternity!

But this is because the Nicene Creed conforms to your already-held beliefs, no?

What of the Christian who rejects a certain doctrine proclaimed by the Creed? What do we say to him?

And aren’t you really saying that we should go to the “least common denominator” that you feel comfortable with?

You would not be willing to sacrifice certain dogmas for the sake of Christian unity, right?

So, with all due respect, why do you get to pick what’s the “least common denominator” but another entity doesn’t?

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