Marika: Dear John. The fact that you look to human beings proves that you do not look to the word of God first and that you do not trust the word of God above any human statement or so called “proof” that humans give. The proof that you ask for is in the word of God. Have you read the book of Acts yet? Please show me where in this book the Catholic church resembles in the least, the church that Jesus founded. The “proof” you gave me is written by a man and his letter is not the inspired word of God so it is not infallible. The word “catholic” does not even appear in the bible.
J. Salza: Who told you that the book of Acts was inspired? It wasn’t the book of Acts. It wasn’t even the Bible, since the Bible does not tell us what books belong in it. This poses quite a dilemma for you, because if you would spend two minutes studying history, you would discover that the Catholic Church told us what books were inspired, and what books were not.
Who gave it that authority? Jesus Christ, who built the Church upon Peter the rock (Mt 16:18-19). The fact that you believe in the Bible means that you accept an infallible decision made by the Catholic Church at her regional councils in A.D. 382, 393, and 397. Why do you accept the Church’s teaching on the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures, but not her other teachings?
Regarding what is “in” the Bible: the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible. But you believe in the Trinity, don’t you? The canon of Scripture is not in the Bible, but you believe in the canon, don’t you? The word “Bible” is not in the Bible, but you believe in the Bible, don’t you? Please tell me where the Bible says that it has to be “in the Bible” in order for it to be true. The fact is, the Bible doesn’t say that, and you don’t believe that anyway, based on the foregoing truths that are not in the Bible, but that you believe.
You are operating under the false presupposition that everything must be in the Scriptures to be true. Yet Scripture never teaches such a thing. I normally would have you prove your presupposition from the Scriptures before entertaining this dialogue, but I will go along with you in this case.
Marika: The Catholic church does not teach what God teaches in most cases. The most important is in the teaching of salvation: The Catholic church teaches that salvation is attained by cooperating with grace through faith, good works, and participation in the sacraments (Catechism 183, 1129, 1815, 2002). The bible teaches that salvation is attained by grace through faith apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5). Good works are the result, not the cause, of salvation (Ephesians 2:10).
J. Salza: Wrong. Scripture teaches that we achieve salvific justification by faith and works, and not faith alone (James 2:24). The works of Eph 2:8-9 refer to works of the Mosaic law or any works where we view God in a contractual way (He owes us), not a covenantal way (He does not owe us but will reward us as our Father). Eph. 2:8-9 do not refer to good works done in the grace of Christ. This is the whole paradigm of Paul’s teaching on justification – grace versus law. Works done in a system of law, where we view God as a debtor to us, do not justify us. Works done in a system of grace, when we view God as Father who owes us nothing, do justify us.
Marika: The Catholic church teaches that faith is belief in God and the firm acceptance of all that the Catholic church proposes for belief (181-182, 1814). The bible teaches that saving faith is the entrusting of oneself to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:8-17).
J. Salza: The Bible never uses the phrase “saving faith,” so it can’t be teaching what you just proposed. Since the Bible does not distinguish between saving faith and false faith, your exegesis is erroneous. Moreover, the Bible says that we must eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood, or we have no life in us (John 6:54). The Bible says he who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mk 16:16). The Bible says that the prayers of priests will save the sick man (James 5:15). The Bible says that women can be saved through child bearing (1 Tim. 2:15). It looks like the Bible says a lot more about how to be saved than what you are proposing.
Marika: The Catholic church teaches that no one can know if he will attain to eternal life and that the Catholic church is necessary for salvation (1036, 2005, 846). The bible teaches that the believer can know that he has eternal life by the Word of God (1 John 5:13) and that there is no one but the Lord Jesus Christ that can save us (Acts 4:12).
J. Salza: When John uses the phrase “eternal life” in this text, he is referring to the current state of the believer on earth, not the final state of the believer in eternity. Scripture uses “eternal life” both ways. John also says that the person knows he has eternal life by believing in the Son, not because he reads Scripture. The Scripture serves as a witness for that belief. The word for “believe” (from the Greek, “pisteo”) includes obeying the Son. Thus, when Jesus tells us that we must endure to the end to be saved (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Mk 13:13), our “belief” in Him necessarily includes persevering in that belief to the end of our lives. Jesus obviously believes that we could fall away from our genuine belief in Him, otherwise His warning would make no sense. This is why John, from whom you choose to quote, tells us to “abide” in the Son and the Father (1 Jn 2:24). The Bible teaches us that we must “obey,” and “persevere,” and “abide” in order to have eternal life.
Marika: The Catholic church teaches that eternal life is a merited reward (1821, 2010). The bible teaches that eternal life is the free gift of God (Romans 6:23).
J. Salza: The Bible also teaches that eternal life has been merited, by the Passion of Jesus Christ. This means that it is a free gift, but has been merited for us, since there is nothing that we could have done to merit it ourselves. Nevertheless, Paul tells us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). This means that salvation is a free gift, but we need to participate with God’s grace in receiving the gift by “working it out with fear and trembling.”
Marika: The Catholic church teaches that Scripture and tradition together are the Word of God (81, 85, 97, 182). The bible teaches that Scripture is the Word of God (John 10:35, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1: 20-21). Tradition is the words of men (Mark 7: 1-13). The bible warns that we should “not be taken captive through philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men (Colossians 2:8). We are to judge all doctrinal teaching by the Word of God (Matthew 7:15-20, 1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 John 4:1).
J. Salza: The Bible teaches that Scripture is the Word of God, but it also teaches that the apostolic tradition is God’s Word as well. 2 Thess 2:15 teaches us that we are to obey the Tradition, whether by word of mouth or letter. This tradition is different than the traditions of men that Jesus condemned. We must obey apostolic tradition, and reject human traditions that void God’s word. The apostolic tradition is the oral teaching of Jesus Christ that He handed on to His apostles, and the teaching of the apostles that was dictated to them by the Holy Ghost. If you disagree, then show me in the Bible where St. Paul’s command to obey oral tradition is repudiated?
Marika: The Catholic church teaches that Mary is the co-mediator to whom we can entrust all our cares and petitions (968-970, 2677). The bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the only mediator (1 Timothy 2:5, John 14: 13-14, 1 Peter 5:7).
J. Salza: Jesus is the only mediator, but He can decide how He wants His mediation to be made manifest. He has chosen us, his royal priests, to be subordinate mediators with him. Thus, St. Paul says that he completes what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church (Col. 1:24). Was there anything lacking in the sufferings of Christ? Of course not. THis shows that God invites us to participate with Christ in His mediation for the salvation of the world. Can I ask Marika to pray for me? OF course I can. Even though Christ is the one mediator, Marika by virtue of her baptism, can be a subordinate mediator. Look at that Scripture again. Right before Paul says Christ is the one mediator, he invites mediation from others because “it is good and acceptable to the Lord.”
Marika: The Catholic church teaches that we should entrust ourselves to Mary, surrendering “the hour of our death” wholly to her care (2677). The bible teaches we should entrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus, surrendering the hour of our death wholly to His care (Romans 10:13, Acts 4:12).
J. Salza: If Mary was good enough for Jesus, then she is good enough for me. If Jesus entrusted His sacred humanity to Mary, then so will I. I want to imitate Jesus. If Jesus gave John over to His Mother, than He would want me to do the same thing. When we entrusted ourselves to the Blessed Mother, we ARE entrusting ourselves to Jesus! Jesus is the reason why Mary, the other saints, and the angels can help us at the hour of death. No Mary, no Jesus.
Marika: John, these are the most important biblical truths pertaining to where you will spend eternity. What the Catholic church teaches is completely contrary to what God Himself states in His Word. I don’t have an “anti-Catholic mentality” as you stated. The only difference between us is that I have placed all of my faith and trust in the Creator for my salvation. You have put yours in the Catholic church. The church has no power to save anyone according to what God says. I’m trusting Him. I hope that you will also–before it’s too late for you. If you ever start to read the bible for yourself and have any questions, I’m willing to help. But until you seek the truth for yourself by actually going to the Word of God for answers, I don’t want you to waste your time by sharing with me what mere men have to say about eternity. I will never trust man over God nor will I ever trust that man knows more or better than God. I promise to pray for you that you choose Jesus Christ and His Word over the Catholic church and it’s teachings. Jesus said: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).
J. Salza: Marika, I appreciate your sincerity and quest for truth. But you certainly haven’t proven that what the Catholic Church teaches is “completely contrary to what God Himself states in His word.” In fact, you haven’t even proven that God’s Word is exclusively found in Scripture, and base your whole argumentation on this premise, all the while contradicting the 2,000 years of teaching behind you. This is the fallacy of your entire approach to the Word. Scripture says quite the opposite: that we are to know the gospel by holding fast to the traditions handed down to us from the apostles, by word of mouth or letter (2 Thess. 2:15). I suggest you read how the early Christians interpreted the Word, and not your 21st century preachers. If you do, you are in for a holy shock.