I’m the kind of person who likes to ask questions, which is one reason why i chose Socrates as a model. Why am i here? How can i know the Bible is true? Is God there? Does he care? Why should i love and obey him?
The great thing about asking questions is not so much the process as the result. When i question whether what i believe is true, it is uncomfortable, because if what i believe is not true, then i will have to stop believing it and believe what is true instead. It can change my life, and change is not easy, but it is right. As Socrates said during his trial:
…the unexamined life is not worth living. …
So, i’m examining my life, specifically the beliefs upon which i live my life. I hope some of you will be kind and patient enough to help me do so.
The question, “Why be good?” is that for which i am searching for the truth. The answer to these three simple words have had a profound affect on me, and perhaps countless others. These three simple words are what separated me from the Roman Catholic church and what separates perhaps millions of others from the church as well. Allow me to explain:
What i have learned since i left the Roman Catholic church (and what i am questioning now) is the belief that the good things i do are a consequence, but not a cause of salvation (or receiving heaven and eternal life). I’ve been taught that this is what the Bible teaches. One example is the statement of St. Paul:
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Another example is the statement of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."(John 3:16-21)
I presume that by “be good” you mean “do good” since the goodness of someone is not caused by him but comes from God.
Do good for the sake of God. Love God for his own sake and love others for God’s sake. To love means to will the good of another. Why love God? Because he’s loveable in himself. He is good, and he wills for us to participate in his goodness.
Yes, i agree. Protestants tell me the same thing. They say that if i do good out of trying to maintain my salvation, i’m actually not doing the good out of love for God. God wants me to love him (and others), not out of fear of losing his love, but out of appreciation for the love he has given me that i in no way deserve.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
– St, John (1 John 4:10)
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18)
When i think of my love for my sons, i could not fathom letting one of them suffer to save another. That is something God did not even make Abraham do, for he stopped him and provided a lamb for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son.
This is to me a beautiful picture of the sacrifice God gave in his one and only Son for me. How could he do that for me? There has been times when the contemplation of it, when i am alone with him, brings this grown man to tears.
Socrates4Jesus, *please *get a copy of Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. He lays out a very logical discussion that reminded me a lot of how you started to lay this problem out. I really think you will love it if you are questioning!
Regarding faith (f) and works (w) as used in your formula. My opinion is that the Catholic idea is more like fw joined as one. After all we read in James’ epistle (read all of ch. 2) that faith without works is dead. One without the other is incomplete.
Doesn’t fly because the Bible tells us that f - w = dead faith
therefore take the works away from both sides (assuming that works are not necessary for salvation, just a bonus effect)
g + r + (f-w) = s + w - w
g + r + dead faith = salvation without works
is to me obviously not right
Unless you do believe that dead faith can achieve a salvation without works, which is the Protestant position.
A protestant might defend it like this:
It is possible to believe sincerely in Jesus, receive his salvation, and be justified by His merits with no further fruit.
I believe the Catholic model might be better represented as such.
g+r f + w = s
Except I would change the equal signs to deltas, to show change rather than immediate equality.
Which is to say that the Catholic model is rather more like following Jesus in discipleship - through God’s grace and my repentance, I follow Jesus by my faith and obedience, which bears the natural fruit of salvation from sin and death.
Catholics believe these statements too. Certainly we agree that faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation. We just don’t agree with Protestants that Paul and Jesus meant faith “alone.”
If this were true, that all a Christian needed to do was to have faith, then all other things would fall into place (good works), what would be the point of Jesus’ sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-8)? Also what would be the point of Matthew 16:24 “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” or of Matthew 25:31-46 (sorry, too long to post)?
Fr Richard John Neuhaus (Catholic convert/former Lutheran minister) said that the difference in belief about salvation between the Protestant and Catholic can be summed up like this:
Protestant: We are saved by grace alone,
Through faith alone,
Because of Christ alone.
Catholic: We are saved by grace (and our free will response to
Through faith (and obedience to God’s law–
Because of Christ (and His Church).
I think the difference between the Catholic and Protestant view of works is that Protestants tend to deny the idea of free will (Luther did) and Catholics believe free will is essential. Catholics believe God wants us to make a free choice to love Him and to serve Him.
Also, you might want to realise Catholics don’t teach that we attain salvation by our good works (lest anyone should boast), but rather than good works are the result of and the evidence of true faith, therefore true faith *which includes good works *is what is required.
Ephesians 2:8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Faith without works is fruitless therefore can’t result in salvation. Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Jesus said it, not something the church made up.)
See, Catholics just have this crazy idea that faith without works actually is dead
This is an interesting way of visualizing the question, and I think it points out the inconsistency of the first position (not that that was your intention, I’m sure :))
The inconsistency is in the fact that you’ve got the human supplying ‘r’ and ‘f’, but you’re just determined that the human doesn’t supply ‘w’. There are, IMO, the only two consistent salvation theologies, using your nomenclature:
g = r + f + w + s (Calvinism?)
g + r + f + w = s (All pre-Reformation Christianity)
g + r + f = w + s is no more consistent than
g + f + w = r + s
g + r + w = f + s or any other combination. It involves an arbitrary division as to what is required from humans to receive the gift of salvation, and what is produced from that gift. I just don’t understand the obsession (and I do mean obsession) with the ‘w’ part of the equation. Protestants don’t obsess over the** ‘r’ **or the ‘f’, but boy do they go on about the ‘w’! Makes no sense whatsoever to me.
The good works you do are neither a consequence, nor a cause of salvation. We do good works because we love. Our love for God includes obedience.
[quote=www.drbo.org] John 14: 9 Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, Shew us the Father? 10 Do you not believe, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works. 11 Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? 12 Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do. 13 Because I go to the Father: and whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do: that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you shall ask me any thing in my name, that I will do. 15 If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever.
The answers to these questions really require more time to explain and clarity (and unity in response) than can be found in forum thread. I suggest that you find a book that gives answers to these questions that you can read without giving up. If you are really serious and willing to invest some time in this pursuit, i recommend finding a good commentary on the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, who uses a question/objection/answer method which I think you would like. If you want something lighter, consider the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which addresses all of these questions. Finally if you want simple answers:
From the Baltimore Catechism:
Who made us?
God made us.
In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. (Genesis 1:1)
Who is God?
God is the Supreme Being, infinitely perfect, who made all things and keeps them in existence.
In him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)
Why did God make us?
God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.
Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)
What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?
To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.
Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth; where the rust and moth consume and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)
Unfortunately Protestants don’t claim to be infallible when interpreting the bible. Thus, you never know which of their teachings happens to be true.
Their interpretation has an error when it denies that obeying Jesus is also a cause of salvation.
The Church teaches that the good that we do
Is a consequence and made possible by the grace of salvation, IF we choose to cooperate with that grace, for God never takes away our free will.
For Jesus said, "without Me you can do nothing"
The Church teaches that when we obey Jesus out of faith, then we receive MORE of this grace that justifies us, thus saves us.
Thus Saint Paul taught in Romans 6:16
"Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or** to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"**
Since we can only by made righteous by grace, St. Paul teaches that obedience leads to receiving more of the grace of salvation
James is a witness also to these teachings.
James 2:24 "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."
And of course, Jesus himself says, "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments"
Since we can’t enter heaven without grace, it is evident again that scripture is a witness to the teachings the apostles handed down that obedience out of faith in Jesus gives us more of the grace that saves us.
Since we can only become righteous by grace, it is clear that when Christians obey Jesus, they receive more of the grace of salvation. **Thus obedience is a consequence AND a cause of salvation.**So we see that Protestantism contradictes the Word of God in the bible when it denies that obedience to Jesus also is a cause of salvation
These are Church teachings which have come from Jesus through the apostles and these are NOT my opinions.
But, the question remains,
Why did St. Paul critisize the Jewish Christians for teaching that Christians must obey the law of Moses, specifically circumcision and Jewish feast days?8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.(Ephesians 2:8-10)
The reason was that these Jewish Christians were teaching that in addition to believing and obeying Jesus, men also had to follow the ritual rites of the Law of Moses.
Since Jesus never taught that Chrisitans had to follow the Law of Moses, then those Christians who were following this Law of Moses were NOT doing it out of faith and obedience to Jesus. Thus, they could not receive grace from following this law. These Jewish Christians were teaching that following the Law of Moses, without faith, was necessary to enter heaven. Since these actions could not result in the grace of salvation, they were teaching that man also had to work his way to heaven apart from the grace of salvation.
Another example is the statement of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."(John 3:16-21)
Jesus did not say that belief ALONE was sufficient in this statement. Protestantism is great and wonderful for taking one verse and implying that this is all Jesus said we can ignore the rest.
But of course we know Jesus also said,
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” “if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments”
Since all the bible is the Word of God, we MUST accept everything Jesus taught. If we reject any teaching of Jesus, we are rejecting God himself and we are in danger of having lost our salvation.
Beware of Protestantism, a man made religion, which rejects much of the teachings of the bible, especially the Jesus’ teachings of obedience.
If we reject a single teaching of Jesus, we are rejecting God Himself and we are making ourselves greater than God.
Beware of the teachings of Protestantism which denies the clear teachings of Jesus on BOTH the necessity of faith AND keeping HIS commandments to receive the grace of salvation to enter heaven.
Jesus did not found a Protestant Church. Protestanism arose in the 1500’s
Jesus founded His Church on Peter and the apostles, the Catholic Church.
Jesus said to the leaders of His Church, “he who rejects you, rejects Me”
Beware of man-made religions. Faith in the teachings of Protestantism cannot save you. ONLY faith in Jesus, esp. when He said to “listen to the Church” can save you.