Question on contradictory teaching

I am confused on a teaching of the Catholic Church.

I believe that the primary reason for the Reformation has to do with the doctrine of Justification (sola fide, and penal substitutionary atonement, etc…), and with that, if there is reconciliation on that point then there is a moral responsibility to have a reunion or communion/reconciliation (I am not sure which is a more accurate term, sorry) with the Catholic Church.

When I have read in footnotes and essays in the New Catholic Version talking about the relationship between faith and works, and reading “How to Go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps” among other books, the importance of faith in salvation is stressed in such a way that it sounds to me that it is sufficient for reconciliation.

But I have heard apologists talk about how sola fide is fundamentally false and that penal substitutionary atonement is an immoral and evil doctrine, and I think that separation is justified.

Could someone please help me figure out how to navigate these two points?

A high view of faith does not equate to faith alone

That’s a leap that only Luther made.

With regard to the idea of Jesus took my place on the cross, it is evil because it says God is evil, or did an evil thing.

So in other words, God KNOWING Jesus to be absolutely innocent, and us guilty, kills an innocent man in place of a guilty man or men. Lets use you and your brother (a hypothetical) : Your brother commits murder and is tried, he is 100% guilty. Now the judge KNOWING he is guilty, sentences you, someone he KNOWS to be 100% innocent to die by lethal injection in his place.

IS the Judge doing something evil?

Biblically Jesus did not take your place. It assumes God was going to crucify you. God had no such intention, you are already under a death sentence inherited from Adam. Biblically we join Jesus on the cross.

Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

St. Paul is much more succinct with this point in Romans:

Rom 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.

No where in the NT will you read the words that “Jesus took my place”. Again, God had no reason to kill you being already under a sentence of death. And He certainly wouldn’t kill an innocent man just to let a guilty man go, that’s just evil.

What Jesus (as high priest) did was offer himself to God as the unblemished sheep. He became the priest and the sacrifice at the same time. When God made a covenant with Moses, Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people to ratify the covenant. When Jesus died out of his side came blood and water. In baptism you are sprinkled with his blood and ratified into the covenant.

1 John 5:6 This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood.
7 And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth.
8 There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree.

Basically the “Jesus took my place on the cross” is blasphemy. Calling evil good and good evil just as the pharisees did when they said Jesus was doing evil in Matthew 12 when he was actually doing the work of God. They attributed his works to Satan.

Hope that helps

Peace and God Bless
Nicene

There’s so much that could be written on these topics. Here are just a few brief answers.

When thinking of ‘works’, think of ‘works of love’.

Jesus tells us that we should love God first and foremost, and love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22: 34-40).
Jesus tells us that not everyone who calls on him will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21).
Jesus tells us what happens when we don’t have love for others (Matthew 25:41-46).
Paul tells us that if we have not love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13).
James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14)

Now, faith alone… if, when you speak of faith, you are speaking of an active faith that is loving of God and others, then we are in agreement. ‘Faith alone’ (simply believing in God) is rather a deceiving term otherwise.

Penal substitionary atonement is not the teaching of the Church. Christ died ‘for our sake’, though not ‘instead of us’. This is a sacrificial offering (the new paschal lamb) on our behalf, rather than God pouring out his wrath on the sinless Christ instead of onto us. God is a loving Father, not a monster.

1 John 3:3-4 Whoever treasures this hope of him purifies himself, to be as pure as he is. Whoever sins, acts wickedly, because all sin is wickedness.

1 John 3:8-10 Whoever lives sinfully belongs to the devil, since the devil has been a sinner from the beginning. This is the purpose of the appearing of the Son of God, to undo the work of the devil. No one who is a child of God sins because God’s seed remains in him. Nor can he sin, because he is a child of God. This is what distinguishes the children of God from the children of the devil: whoever does not live uprightly and does not love his brother is not from God.

Christ’s sacrifice makes it possible for us to be reconciled with God and to receive his grace.

:thumbsup:

Here’s my take on it:

Martin L: “Buying your wife presents, giving her a roof over her head, and caring for her physical and emotional needs does not make a marriage. You need to love your wife.”
Catholic: “Okay, that sounds good.”
Martin L: “All the other things are worthless! You’re just doing them because you’re trying to buy your wife’s affection. Only love matters. Only love!”
Catholic: “Okay, only love. So does that mean I don’t have to do anything, except say “I love you” a few hundred times each day?”
Martin L: “Well…”
Catholic: "Or is it possible that I do those things you mentioned above, not out of obligation or to manipulate her, but out of love?’
Martin L: “Well…”
Catholic: “Or let’s look at it another way. What if I say I love my wife - and even believe it to be true - but then give her a few left hooks, cheat on her, and let her starve? Those things don’t matter, right, because I love her?”
Martin L: “Duh…Igottagoseeamanaboutadog! Cheerio!” :o
Catholic: “I thought so.” :slight_smile:

:rotfl:

:thumbsup:

I am not sure what you are basing this conversation on. I understand Martin Luther had a happy marriage. He is quoted for saying: “Let the wife make her husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” This doesn’t seem like he is approving of marital violence.

I think many people confuse what Martin Luther was talking about with sola fide. He wasn’t saying to have some vague faith and then lead a sinful life. This has not been what Protestantism is about and I don’t know where that notion came from. Martin Luther’s 95 theses are all about criticism for penance and most specifically indulgences. His objection was to the use of these “works” in order to remit sin. Remission of sin or justification is granted by faith alone - prescribed penances and earning indulgences does not remit sin.

40.A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them – at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
41.Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
42.Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
43.Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
44.Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
45.Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.

luther.de/en/95thesen.html

“We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” - Martin Luther

What if:

  1. the judge knew the innocent brother could conquer/overcome death and rise to life again but the guilty brother was totally incapable of doing such a thing.

  2. both the innocent brother and the judge loved the guilty brother immensely and desired to do all in their power to give the guilty party opportunity to repent and change before he had to appear for a final judgment.

In such a case, I do not think the judge would be evil at all. He would be very merciful and loving.

I do not believe in the strict penal substitutionary atonement, and I do not mean the above to be interpreted in a way that supports that view. But, Jesus did die for our sins - did give His life as a “ransom” (Mt. 20:28; Mk 10:45)

No where in the NT will you read the words that “Jesus took my place”. Again, God had no reason to kill you being already under a sentence of death. And He certainly wouldn’t kill an innocent man just to let a guilty man go, that’s just evil.

What Jesus (as high priest) did was offer himself to God as the unblemished sheep. He became the priest and the sacrifice at the same time. When God made a covenant with Moses, Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people to ratify the covenant. When Jesus died out of his side came blood and water. In baptism you are sprinkled with his blood and ratified into the covenant.

The lamb had to undergo death - be killed - in order to provide the blood. (A little non fatal blood letting was not an acceptable way to acquire the lamb’s blood needed for the sacrifice.)

Beautifully said. Thank you.

Ecumenical dialog has actually made a lot of ground in overcoming differences etc.

As one person put it- in some things persons were using different language or meanings for the same words etc.

John 1,29 “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.
Eph 5,2 “Christ has love us and has delivered Himself for us, an oblation and sacrifice to God…”
IJohn 2,2 “He is expiation for our sins, and not our sins only, but for those of the whole world.”
Mt 20,28 “…and to give His life a redemption for many.”
Mt 26,28 “This is my blood of the New Testament which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.”
I Tim 2,6 “…He gave Himself as ransom for all.”

The council of Trent teaches that Jesus offered His life on the cross for our eternal redemption. It also said “who by His most holy passion on the cross offered satisfaction for us to God the Father.”

But it might be questioned, “God the son gave God the Father satisfaction?” God giving to God?

The understanding is that God the son had two natures,
that of God and that of man. As a man, one of us, he offered satisfaction to the Father.

So again consider what was cited:

John 1,29 “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.
Eph 5,2 “Christ has love us and has delivered Himself for us, an oblation and sacrifice to God…”
IJohn 2,2 “He is expiation for our sins, and not our sins only, but for those of the whole world.”
Mt 20,28 “…and to give His life a redemption for many.”
Mt 26,28 “This is my blood of the New Testament which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.”
I Tim 2,6 "…He gave Himself as ransom for all.

In regards to different consideration, that non-Catholics also hold that works are important and go along with faith,… it has to be pointed out that there are many non-Catholics who say that “once saved always saved” and that this idea is absolute, which means that works do not necessarily go along with faith in a necessary way. It may be that some do say this but there are many who do not say this.

Pope Benedict XVI on the subjects of Faith and Works in St. Paul

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081119_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081126_en.html (scroll down)

Plus earlier one:

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061108_en.html

Readers: be sure to read them all…and slowly…

catholic.com/video/are-we-saved-by-faith-alone-1

catholic.com/video/5-bible-passages-that-refute-faith-alone

catholic.com/magazine/articles/by-faith-alone

Nope, still an evil act. Killing an innocent person will always be an evil act no matter what spin one puts on it. St. Paul argues against this concept in romans i.e. doing evil that good may come. Biblically Jesus is your defense attorney, he pays your bail. He redeems you from the slavery to sin.

I do not believe in the strict penal substitutionary atonement, and I do not mean the above to be interpreted in a way that supports that view. But, Jesus did die for our sins - did give His life as a “ransom” (Mt. 20:28; Mk 10:45)

The lamb had to undergo death - be killed - in order to provide the blood. (A little non fatal blood letting was not an acceptable way to acquire the lamb’s blood needed for the sacrifice.)

Again Jesus didn’t take our place on the cross, he takes the place of the lamb biblically. With his death, he literally bought you, that’s why biblically it says you were purchased. Think of him as a slave owner who buys you from another slave owner. However this slave owner buys you to set you free. You were a slave to sin and death, Christs purchase made you a slave to righteousness

Rom 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Substitutionary atonement is evil at it’s core.

Peace and God Bless
Nicene

RPRPsych was in no way suggesting that Luther condoned violence of any kind. He was making an analogy between a husband’s relationship with his wife and God’s relationship with us. Since the bible has many passages referring to God as the bridegroom and the church his bride, I think it’s totally appropriate

Christ is the bridegroom and the church is His bride. If in the above example you put Christ in as the husband or wife it still doesn’t represent anything that Martin Luther taught, nor does it explain sola fide.

Martin Luther’s objection was that works of penance and indulgence could take away sins. Sola fide says that sins are taken away and a person is justified because of their faith. The sacrifice of Jesus is the only thing that can take away the guilt of sin. We can not save ourselves by doing enough good things. We can only trust in God for that part.
Good works are the evidence of having saving faith - they do not cause the person to have a saving faith.

You are talking about initial justification, yet under the guise of “evidence of being saved” (which biblically you will not find) reject final justification:

Rom 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

James and Paul agree on this:

Jam 2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God.
24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

The notion of you’ll want to do them is also unbiblical. None of the prophets, Moses or even Jesus wanted to do what was asked, in fact asked to be released from it but then accepted Gods will.

L 22:42 “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

Peace and God Bless
Nicene

Not disagreeing with you about the the faith but it’s not by faith alone. The Bible also states that we must confess those sins.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So I guess my question is how does sola fide say sins are taken away without going to confession?

Agreed, this sounds very Catholic. There is absolutely nothing we can do to have saving faith. Actually, so much so, that we can’t even have faith in Christ without first receiving the initial grace given to us freely by God. I have found through the years that it all comes down to definition. As Catholics we agree with what you say here, but as a Catholic we say it is Faith plus Works. What we mean is the same thing that good works are the evidence of having faith, but we also take it a step further by stressing it to the point that these same good works are not an option. It is not I have Faith but I am to busy or self centered to do the works. Basically, I far out example, which I am sure you would agree with:

Say you are living high on the hog in your 40 bedroom mansion with every servant and everything imaginable, not having to lift a finger for anything. I don’t thing Jesus is going to look favorable on you, even though you spent every waking moment reading the Bible or listening to preachers, if you never helped others or fed the poor.

Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

God didn’t do the killing; he allowed it.
God knew exactly what would occur if He chose that particular point in human history to become incarnate. He didn’t make those people hate and commit evil as they did, but in His foreknowledge He knew it would occur and chose to have it be the very means of our salvation.

Biblically Jesus is your defense attorney, he pays your bail. He redeems you from the slavery to sin

This isn’t a very good analogy for Jesus’ role in our redemption - especially His death on the cross - because:

  1. A defense attorney does not take upon himself the penalty required for the crime involved.
    The penalty for sin is death. Jesus accepted that penalty/death - even tho He never sinned.

  2. And, bail is not the penalty; but even that the defense attorney doesn’t pay out of his own pocket.

Again Jesus didn’t take our place on the cross, he takes the place of the lamb biblically.

Jesus doesn’t “take the place” of the lamb. If anything, the lamb “took the place” of Jesus! - that is, represented Jesus. And to understand how that OT rite prefigured Jesus one needs to include** why the lamb was killed**.

It was knowing the way He would redeem us from our sins (by suffering and dying for us) that determined the form of the OT sacrificial rites. God established those particular rites because He wanted rites that would prefigure the true sacrifice - to teach and prepare His people to recognize and understand the true sacrifice when it occurred.
BTW, that is why Leviticus is so instructional and rewarding - IF one reads to see how they prefigure Our Lord’s sacrifice and what He did for us.

With his death, he literally bought you, that’s why biblically it says you were purchased. Think of him as a slave owner who buys you from another slave owner. However this slave owner buys you to set you free. You were a slave to sin and death, Christs purchase made you a slave to righteousness

In your analogy the slave owner never gave up being an owner and became a slave in order to obtain the funds to purchase freedom for other slaves. The Second Person of the Trinity became one of us.

Substitutionary atonement is evil at it’s core.

I’m not sure what type of substitutionary atonement you refer to. There are evidently several categories. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substitutionary_atonement

The Catholic Church definitely teaches “vicarious atonement”. COUNCIL OF TRENT, Session 6, Chapter 7
…Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies,[33] for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us,[34] merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father,
ewtn.com/library/councils/trent6.htm
Mt. 20:28 as cited earlier
John 10:15 I lay down My life for My sheep.
2 Cor 5:21 Him who knew no sin He hath made sin for us: that we might be made the justice of God in Him.
Gal. 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us free from the curse of the law, being made acurse for us.
1 Peter 2:24 Who His own self bore our sins in His body upon the tree: that we, being dead to sins, should live to justce: by whose stripes you were healed.

Thanks for adding this! :slight_smile:

I was simply indulging in a bit of humour to explain why “sola fide” is something that cannot be taken at face value, using the comparison between married love and our relationship with God. In no way did I intend to insinuate anything about Dr. Luther’s marriage, which from what I have read was a very happy one. If I gave that impression, my apologies. :slight_smile:

I think many people confuse what Martin Luther was talking about with sola fide. He wasn’t saying to have some vague faith and then lead a sinful life. This has not been what Protestantism is about and I don’t know where that notion came from. Martin Luther’s 95 theses are all about criticism for penance and most specifically indulgences. His objection was to the use of these “works” in order to remit sin. Remission of sin or justification is granted by faith alone - prescribed penances and earning indulgences does not remit sin.

It’s true that Luther’s position was not that simplistic. Unfortunately, if you ask the average “get born again” Christian what he means by sola fide, he will probably speak a bit like the Martin L. in my dialogue.

And your characterization of penance and indulgences is somewhat inaccurate. Penance is simply the sign and confirmation of inward repentance. Our Saviour himself refers to “repenting in sackcloth and ashes”; the sackcloth and ashes do not forgive sins (only He can), but they are signs of a true repentance. As for indulgences, one must distinguish between the Church’s teaching and the abuses that had crept into the system. Here is a contemporary Church document which clarifies the concept:

w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-vi_apc_01011967_indulgentiarum-doctrina.html

:slight_smile:

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