Question for Protestants


During my recent adventure over in CARM I saw many things that really bothered me. Not so much because of the hateful attitudes against Catholics but because I was offended by the picture they present of Protestants believe it or not. Anyway, below is quote I saw on one of the threads. I was rather shocked by it. Keep in mind that the first line of the quote was in huge bright letters.

Jesus cannot make you better.

If you are becoming a RC for Jesus to make you better than you will not succeed. You are already under the influence of the crafty teachings of the RCC as you are wrong.

Your post is a personal attack on my brother in Christ and his parents and shows that you would not have a clue who Jesus is.

Now at first I thought well maybe this is just some yahoo saying that Jesus cannot make you better if you’re Catholic. Bad but not beyond the pale for a bigot.

Then I read the below quote by a Catholic in response:

Dont be silly Jesus can do anything he chooses.

Which was answered by:

Jesus cannot make you better.
How does Jesus make you better?
This is a new and crafty theology and if you can convince the elect that this is the truth they may become apostate and join you in the RCC.

Now I’m a convert from the Baptist Church. I know as a Protestant that I would have been very offended by the above statements. Not the Catholic part but for the idea that Jesus can’t make us better people. Also, as a Protestant I would have been offended by the idea only Catholics believed in Jesus ability to improve our lives.

What really got me about the quotes is that the other Protestants not only didn’t object they supported them.

Now I think a lot more of the protestants that we have here than to think you guys think this way, but is this sort of mentality something that you’re familiar with? It’s very confusing to me.


It’s stated in a particularly bald and radical way, but a lot of modern fundamentalists really do seem to think that any attempt to pursue sanctification is a form of “works righteousness.”

Even among more sensible evangelicals, you can hear traces of this. I remember one discussion in the grad-student InterVarsity group I belonged to at Duke, where a number of people in the group seemed to be worried about the possibility that by emphasizing spiritual disciplines, daily Bible reading, etc…, as means to get closer to God, they would be falling into works righteousness. Perhaps I am reporting the conversation unfairly, but that is my memory of it.

This is completely alien to the Wesleyan form of Protestantism I come from.



I’ve experienced a bit of this myself.

I also was over at CARM for a little bit, and I had to leave. There are - without wanting to be unfair - from what I can see a lot of rather vitriolic folks over there. I had to leave when I had to write about 10 pages to try to show that the woman in Genesis 3:15 might - not did, but might - be a prophecy that Mary would give birth to Christ - not that she would be Immaculate or anything like that, just that she would give birth to Christ. If I couldn’t get them to buy that, there was really no point in wasting my time.


Besides the works-righteousness scrupulosity, I think it also comes from (and I forget the official terminology) the snow covered dung-heep–where God doesn’t sanctify you, rather He looks at Jesus’ immaculate righteousness rather than your sinfulness.


OMG! You’re right! I was taught this when I was an evangelical but I had never took it to this degree. It had not dawned on me that by necessity this outlook makes Jesus impact on our lives null and that the sole reason for His incarnation is the keep us from Hell and not to regernerate us…

That is really frightening…


Heb 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.


The prayer of St. Francis sums it up for me, it’s who Jesus was and is and reflects the example of what a Christian should be. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and we are called to be instruments of peace. To become an instrument of peace we need to be dead to self which takes the refining power of the Holy Spirt. To become an instrument of peace we must allow Jesus to change us and shape us into his image with His refining fire. The flesh wants to attack, defend itself, hurt others and cause them shame, these are elements of the carnel nature and not the nature of Christ. We are called to heap more grace and mercy on those who attack us which takes great humilty and surrender of self will to Christ.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.


You know the thing that I think most sad about this view point is that one misses the joy of striving to follow Christs teachings and experiencing a oneness with Our Lord. I’m saying that these people aren’t sincere but they’re lossing out on the main advantages of being Christian.

Letting Christ move in one’s life and experiencing His peace. To immerse oneself in His teachings and striving to be like Him and His’ Saints this is the joy that surpasses all understanding. To deny oneself that? One might as well be in Hell.


not that Ive heard everything but this and the carm deal sounds whacked. Then again I was on another forum and a garage church guy was spouting prophecy about Bin Laden. He was wrong so we stoned him. :wink: just kidding we couldnt throw rocks through the screen.

Just because something or someone says christian or catholic for that matter doesnt mean it is. Theres always Fruit to be picked over.


I too come from a Baptist background (Canadian Convention) and am working towards my confirmation in the Catholic Church.

I’ve been astonished at the vitriol that both Catholics and Protestants hurl at each other (intra-hurling) and at The Other (inter-hurling).

All of this is, for me, absolutely unChristian, and I tend to ignore - to the extent of putting someone on my ignore list (push the button) - people who disgrace themselves and Our Lord in this way.

(There is another matter however, and that is that some of the most rabid anti-Protestants in the Catholic Church are converts from protestant denominations. I cannot fathom why this should be true, especially when it includes people who have served their protestant churches for years before conversion.)

What it all means is that from either side, slight knowledge is used in battle, and there is certainly little evidence that the insults reflect correct doctrine or practice of either side, or the eminently Christian ecumenism that characterises other levels of church hierarchies. In other words you are often dealing with young people who may not know very much, and who may prefer slanging matches to discussions about faith - especially if there is macho ego involved. You have to decide. That is the issue.

Get it into perspective. I have run the gauntlet and come out the other side, not without scars, and not without trauma while it was happening. It is shameful, but not for you. You must protect your peace, continue on your spiritual journey, and walk your own walk with Christ. If something sounds ridiculous, it probably is.

Rule: ignore people who show no evidence of substantial knowledge and who seem to have their heads screwed on backwards. Keep your own eyes firmly focused on your goal.

Love from Carol



It is strange isn’t it - how some former Protestants become virulently anti-Protestant when they join the Catholic Church. This phenomenon is seen in other parallel areas such as converts to Islam, ex-smokers etc as well.
I still have a lot of respect for the traditions of the Pentecostal Church - well the ones that deserve respect anyway:)
This has motivated me to restart the bible study group in our parish starting in two weeks’ time. Our priest is big enough to admit that the Catholic Church has learnt from Protestant denominations.
Like you, Carol, I find the ignore button invaluable. I come here for edification and so anyone who doesn’t help towards that goal gets the button!
Paul talks about striving towards the prize. If that doesn’t entail some work on our parts, I don’t know what does! We can only do this through God’s grace, but we are called to holiness with God’s help.


Yes, this scrupulosity over any hint of “works righteousness” is a result of a very basic difference in theology. In Catholic theology, real sanctification is possible, and is accomplished by God’s grace, with our cooperation. In fact, we believe that sanctification is necessary to obtain heaven. Sanctifying grace comes to us from God through the sacraments and in other ways as well. We cooperate with God’s grace to grow in perfection.

In Protestant theology, I think that any attempt at sanctification may be viewed as trying to work one’s way into heaven. One is saved by faith alone, and nothing we can do–nothing at all–is pleasing to God or is able to help in our sanctification. So I suppose, in that view, Jesus really can’t make you a better person. You just enter heaven because God stamps you “redeemed” even though you are still at base an evil person.


I myself still have a good bit of affection for my SBC roots. After all this was the Church that first introduced me to Our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s hard to get to mad about that :slight_smile:

Now most of the ex-Protestant converts I know feel like me and I’ve never really meant any angry ones still I realize logicially they must be there. I would assume the anger is probably from bad experiences they had in their former churches. Maybe there was abuse or real corruption at the local level that caused them to view the whole movement as being like that.

For the most part Protestant Churches are filled with sincere and moral people who want to worship and server Our Lord which are all positive and good things. So I don’t think the anger could be truly towards the Church itself but is probably a hold of for personal injuries. Which while very real to that person, the blame may not be applied fairly.

Also if someone grew up in a church but didn’t actually come to a real and personal faith in God until they joined another Church they may unfarily blame the former denomination for keeping them from the Faith which again may not be fair.

I’m just making assumptions though.


This is true.

What is amazingly humorous is the constant claim by RC apologists that converts from Protestantism never attack their roots like ex-Catholics do.


Every time I hear that, I just sigh and shrug, as it has no bearing in the reality some will admit to here.

At least, thank you for the honesty. We all need to stay true.


This is true. Many Evangelicals take an over simplistic position on what are “works.” Many try to advance their position by saying even those works done from God’s grace are rubbish and any attempt to do works is trying to work your way to heaven. Fundamentalists (especially the most extreme one’s) see all works as evil. The Wesleyan form of Protestantism is much more pursuasive and in line with the obvious and plain teachings of scripture. The Bible is filled with statements from Jesus and the Apostles to do good works. Paul mentions it many times in his epistles, yet it is clear that we are NOT saved by our good personal works. Eph 2:8-9 gives us the type of works that don’t save (our personal works apart from God’s grace), yet the very next verse–10 tells us that God created us for good works that we should walk in them.
I believe St. Augustine says “What merit of man is there before grace by which he can achieve grace, as only grace works every one of our good merits in us, and as God, when He crowns our merits, crowns nothing else but His own gifts.” (Ep. 194,5,19:)


wow…snow covered dung heap. I never thought of it that way as a protestnt, but that is basically what they taught us. that’s what it really is if God looks at christ and ignores our mess. I’d rather the sanctification please!!


As a Baptist would-be Catholic, I rushed out to find a definition of sanctification, and perhaps this one will serve:

Many of us [Catholics] have confused the doctrine of justification with the doctrine of sanctification. According to the Bible, after a man is justified before God, he begins a lifelong process of sanctification where he grows in holiness and obedience to God’s law. Justification is the starting point for sanctification (Romans 6). Justification removes the guilt of sin and restores the sinner to a relationship with God. Sanctification eliminates sinful habits and makes the sinner more and more like Jesus Christ. Justification takes place outside of the sinner in the court of God. Sanctification takes place in the soul and the spirit of man. Justification takes place once and for all. Sanctification is a continuous process of growth, as we “run the race” to the end of our lives. The work of sanctification is never complete in the life of a Christian.

At this thought, I screamed internally at the thought of my driven Baptist life, and rushed back to sources (sorry, slothful, Wikipedia only) and Googled ‘Protestant Ethic’:

The Protestant work ethic, or sometimes called the Puritan work ethic, is a Calvinist value emphasizing the necessity of constant labor in a person’s calling as a sign of personal salvation. Protestants beginning with Martin Luther had reconceptualised work as a duty in the world for the benefit of the individual and society as a whole. The Catholic idea of good works was transformed into an obligation to work diligently as a sign of grace.

I think we have a confusion: you take if from here, because I am not up on justification and sanctification yet. Nor am I willing at this hour of the night in South Africa to write a thesis on preordained salvation, or works salvation among protestant denominations from 1500 to 2007.



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