Piggy-back into heaven: The Roman Catholic treasury of merit

I was speaking to a Roman Catholic relative who told me that she aims to drag lapsed Catholics and others into heaven on her back. I said to her “You seem to be talking about the Roman Catholic idea of the “treasury of merit.” She kept mum – and also is one.

The “treasury of merit,” is defined by the Roman Catholic Church as:

There is a communion of the saints, (1 Cor. 12, Job 1:5, Col. 1:24, Apostles’ Creed) by which we can aid one another in the Body of Christ through our prayers and sacrifices. All who are joined to Christ by sanctifying grace (and thus are sharers in His divine life) are united into one society by their participation in the one divine life. (See Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit and the Communion of Saints). What does this “aid to one another” mean? Here is the Roman Catholic catechism:

Par. 1476

We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church’s treasury, which is “not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy.”

Par. 1477

This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission the Father entrusted to them. In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.” (Indulgentiarum doctrina, 5).

My Catholic relative intends to (help Christ to?) bring about the salvation of others through 1. the excess of her prayers, 2. the frequent partaking of the eucharist and 3. loving kindness. The Protestant Reformation pivoted around the rejection of the doctrine that good works saves – saves you or those you try to piggy-back into heaven on the excess of your treasure.

My relative is the epitome of lovingkindness, yet, according to the scriptures (if not Pope Francis) those who believe that they can work someone else into heaven are at best grieviously deceived. They have rejected the only mediator and saviour, Jesus Christ. They have rejected the Gospel.

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17 thoughts on “Piggy-back into heaven: The Roman Catholic treasury of merit

  1. Does not the Bible say in 1 Cor. 7-14 “For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it as they are holy.” This right here proves others have a great part to play in the salvation of others. The children become “holy” because of the “consecration” of their parents.

    Were not “households” in the Bible saved, because of the faith of one or both parents?

    Did not Paul say in Rm. 11:13-14 “I” magnify my ministry in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus “save” some of them.”

    1Cor. 9:22 “I have become all things to men, that “I” might by all means save some.”

    Tim 2:15 states, “A woman can be “saved” through bearing children if she continues in faith, love, and holiness.”

    James says, “Let him know that whoever brings a sinner back from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:20

    My list can go on and on, as the Bible also tells us, prayer, hope, grace, the power of God, baptism, endurance, etc… also saves us. In fact our “works” are going to be the determining factor if we get into heaven or go to hell when Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. On this day, it says not one single thing about “faith,” being the determining factor. It says “works.” In fact does not James tell us, “Faith without works is dead.” There are works under the law, and there are works under “grace.” Paul was speaking of “works under the law,” James was speaking of “works under grace.” Did not God say in the Psalms, “He would repay everyone according to their deeds.”

    Did not Paul also say, “We make up for what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ.” Not that one thing Christ did “lacked” anything, so what did Paul mean? We are co-workers with Christ in the plan of salvation.

    So do we just ignore all of these Scriptures or what? Or do we piece them together with the Scriptures including our faith in Christ?

    Jesus Himself prayed for others. Jesus Himself performed works/miracles so others would believe. Jesus Himself was kind to others so they could see the “God of love.” Remember, Jesus said, “I have come for Israel.” He did this to show Israel, was a loving God and not the vengeful God they thought Him to be. Jesus instituted the Eucharist Himself.

    According to Scripture, it takes “faith” and “works” combined. God Bless, SR

  2. Sorry for the typo errors, but I do so get tired of everyone telling Catholics we have “rejected the Gospel” and are being “deceived.” It makes me angry and it hurts us. It always seems to me when we are told this, a whole lot of other Scriptures are being left out. I do not believe that should be done, because one thinks they have the “monopoly” on God, or wants to be “smug” about their own beliefs. I just start typing and do not read before I okay comment. God Bless, SR

  3. Problem with saints” treasure in heaven? The remedy is simple – just read Mat 6:20, 19:21, Mark 10:21 and Luke 18:22. For sure Christ did not talk about investment in heaven with which we support our eternal retirement.

    • Vivator

      You don’t seem to agree with my Roman Catholic relative that there are people that will be in heaven who rejected Christ that you can piggy-back into heaven through your prayers, frequent communion, good works.

      • We, the saints on earth and the saints in heaven can pray and performs works for others on earth to become believers or to repent from their wrongdoings and for the saints in purgatory to release them. If you have problem with this consider missionaries – their WORKS merits salvation to others. From Catholic teaching it is Grace that moved them to work as missionaries. Moved by grace then their works merit grace for others. Thus everything is based on grace, not on our works, albeit we do them. Without grace given by God through Christ by the Holy Spirit we can do nothing.
        You have been taught that according to the Reformers only grace alone through faith alone saves a person. That is the selling point of Calvinism, which you believe blindly. You are not aware that there are hidden works in the slogan by faith alone.
        Luther himself candidly admitted that works are necessary for salvation.
        Works are necessary to salvation, but they do not cause salvation, because faith alone gives life. On account of the hypocrites we must say that good works are necessary to salvation. It is necessary to work. Nevertheless, it does not follow that works save on that account, unless we understand necessity very clearly as the necessity that there must be an inward and outward salvation or righteousness. Works save outwardly, that is, they show evidence that we are righteous and that there is faith in a man which saves inwardly, as Paul says, “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” [Rom. 10:10]. Outward salvation shows faith to be present, just as fruit shows a tree to be good.
        Luther: The Disputation Concerning Justification, from Luther’s Works Vol. 34, page 135

        Luther still (and correctly) argued that justification is by faith alone because according to Reformers justification is one time event, not a process (as according to Catholic teaching) but according to what he wrote salvation is by faith PLUS works.
        Reformed scholar, Francis Turrentin (1623 – 1687) wrote:
        For since good works have the relation of the means to the end (Jn. 3:5, 16; Mt. 5:8); of the “way” to the goal (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 3:14); of the “sowing” to the harvest (Gal. 6:7, 8); of the “first fruits” to the mass (Rom. 8:23); of labor to the reward (Mt. 20:1); of the “contest” to the crown (2 Tim. 2:5; 4:8), everyone sees that there is the highest and an indispensable necessity of good works for obtaining glory. It is so great that it cannot be reached without them (Heb. 12:14; Rev. 21:27).
        Turrentin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology,
        Seventeenth Topic: Sanctification and Good Works, Vol. 2, page 702

        I hope you are now aware that your salvation is by faith + works, though it is being marketed and propagated as faith alone salvation. According to Reformers teaching everybody must work for his/her salvation. This makes you selfish persons – you only consider your own salvation. According to Catholic teaching, moved by grace we work and merits grace for ourselves and/or for others. There is no selfishness here and that is the core of Christianity!

        • So, vivator, you disagree with the idea that one can piggyback an unbeliever into heaven? But, you can play a role in moving a person from purgatory to heaven?

          • You still don’t get the point or you pretend not to understand. Moved by grace we pray for non-believers to become believer and if he/she becomes a believer then it is grace that is at work on him/her, NOT our prayer. The person is not piggy back or hitch hike us. In the same way those who become Christians after a missionary work do not piggyback/hitch hike that missionary to heaven. God can bring and good news to and convert anybody on earth without the help of any missionary. Similarly He can release any soul from purgatory without our prayer. He allows us to work with him and all the credits go to God, NOT to us – we do NOT contribute any. Working together with God, the so called synergism, is scriptural. Scripture says: “We know that in everything God works [Greek sunergei] for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28, RSV). Greek verb sunergo means to work together. For we are God’s fellow workers [Greek sunergoi]; you are God’s field, God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9, RSV). Calvinist teaching that God works alone or known as monergism (and that’s why you have problem with praying for others) is unscriptural!
            You are silent on the fact that according to your gurus Luther and Turrentin your salvation is by faith plus works, albeit being propagated and marketed as faith alone salvation.

            • – Moved by grace we pray for non-believers to become believer and if he/she becomes a believer then it is grace that is at work on him/her, NOT our prayer.

              Moi – I agree

              – The person is not piggy back or hitch hike us. In the same way those who become Christians after a missionary work do not piggyback/hitch hike that missionary to heaven. God can bring and good news to and convert anybody on earth without the help of any missionary.

              Moi – I had described my Catholic relative, who said “I will bring the people I pray for to heaven on my back. In sum, piggyback. We both agree that this is unbiblical.

              – Similarly He can release any soul from purgatory without our prayer.

              Moi – We disagree on the existence of purgatory.

              – He allows us to work with him and all the credits go to God, NOT to us – we do NOT contribute any. Working together with God, the so called synergism, is scriptural. Scripture says: “We know that in everything God works [Greek sunergei] for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28, RSV). Greek verb sunergo means to work together. For we are God’s fellow workers [Greek sunergoi]; you are God’s field, God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9, RSV).

              Moi – two issues: 1. The above relates to our own personal salvation, not to us building up a surfeit of works that can be transferred to anyone else, which is what my post was critiquing. 2. Salvation is a process of which justification (reconciliation with God/making righteous/being born again), on the one hand, and good works (as the fruit that follows) are two ingredients. Synergism for Arminians like Catholics refers to both ingredients, while for the Reformers, the term only applies to works: “work out your salvation in fear and trembling, BECAUSE it is Christ who is working in you.”

              – Calvinist teaching that God works alone or known as monergism (and that’s why you have problem with praying for others) is unscriptural!

              Moi – Incorrect; Calvinists pray much for the conversion of others. You quoted above “those called ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE” (Romans 8:28). God has purposed this from eternity. Our prayers and their effects on others occur in time. Christ commands Christians to pray and evangelize. These are the means he commanded us to use to fulfill his eternal purposes.

              – You are silent on the fact that according to your gurus Luther and Turrentin your salvation is by faith plus works, albeit being propagated and marketed as faith alone salvation.

              – the Lutheran-Calvinist position is that justification (as part of the process of salvation) is by grace alone, through faith alone. Once justified (reconciled with God), it is certain that prayer and good works will follow. Once the process of salvation has begun, it will certainly end in eternal life (glorification) – Romans 8:28-30). Calvinist theology explains the connection between faith and works in this way: Salvation by faith alone, which is not alone, that is, works are the evidence of faith, which will certainly lead to eternal life.

              • The only time in Scripture that the words “faith” and “alone” appear together is when James 2:24 says, “A man is justified by works and not by “faith alone.”
                There is no other place in Scripture where these two words appear together. In fact Paul nor any other NT writer ever said, “We are justified by “faith alone.” Paul never uses the words “faith” or “only” in the same sentence either. Paul uses the word “faith” over 200 times in the Bible, but never with the word “alone.” So if James says, “A man is justified by works and not by “faith alone,” what do we do with this verse of Scripture? Do we just ignore it and continue on with what we want to believe, or what? God Bless, SR

                • SR

                  As for the Apostle James’s “faith without works is dead”:

                  “[W]hen Paul says that a person is justified by faith without works (Rom 3:28), his context makes it clear that he defines faith as something more than passive assent to a viewpoint; he defines it as a conviction that Christ is our salvation, a conviction on which one actively stakes one’s life (Rom 1:5). James declares that one cannot be justified by faith without works (James 2:14)—because he uses the word “faith” to mean mere assent that something is true (2:19), he demands that such assent be actively demonstrated by obedience to show that it is genuine (2:18). In other words, James and Paul use the word “faith” differently, but do not contradict one another on the level of meaning. If we ignore context and merely connect different verses on the basis of similar wording, we will come up with contradictions in the Bible that the original writers would never have imagined. (“Biblical Interpretation” by Craig Keener).

                  I wrote more on this issue here :
                  https://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/roman-catholic-and-jewish-faith-i-dont-vant-to-be-alone/

              • You may disagree on purgatory, following the teaching of Reformers. Yet Scripture refers God as refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:2) who refines some as one refines silver (Zechariah 13:8-9). A silversmith knows he finishes refining sliver when he can see his image reflected in the silver – recall that in Genesis Adam, before the Fall, was created after God’s image.
                You wrote “not to us building up a surfeit of works that can be transferred to anyone else” I did NOT write our works are transferrable to others – where you got the idea? Let me repeat again, moved by grace, we merit grace for ourselves and/or others. Thus moved by grace a missionary works (or a person prays) and his/her works lead to salvation to others.
                You mention good works as fruit of justification – a classic answer. My question for you is what is the minimum amount or frequency of works to be considered as fruit of justification. This question may never cross your mind but there should be cut-off point. Otherwise one may simply say he/she does good work once a week and does evil work on other days and is still guaranteed heaven. If good works as fruit of justification is mandatory, not optional, then your salvation is by faith AND works.
                You wrote “Calvinists pray much for the conversion of others”. Are those to whom you pray piggy back you to heaven? Catholics do believe in Election and predestination and this implies the Elect are chosen by God – thus salvation by grace, not by works. You may claim the same but as pointed out above and based on the teaching of Luther and others, your salvation is by faith and works.

  4. SR
    Before I comment further, do you agree that there are people that will be in heaven who rejected Christ that you can piggy-back into heaven through your prayers, frequent communion, good works.

    • For kicks if you do not mind, let us lose the term “piggy back.” That to me is such an obnoxious term to use, just because your relative had so much love in her heart, for those who have rejected Christ. I call it “love!” The same love Christ had on the Cross for each and every one of us.

      Do I believe those who rejected Christ can go to heaven? No. Do I believe our prayers, works, and Communion when offered to God for them can move God to change their hearts? Yes!

      I go to our Lord on the Cross, when He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Who is “them?” “Them” are those who rejected Christ and nailed Him to the Cross.

      Did they go to heaven? I do not know. But….since God’s only Son prayed for them, I do so believe God heard that prayer. Did He change their hearts? I do not know, but you do not know that He did not, do you? They could be in heaven with Jesus now, as much as they could “not” be in heaven with Him. We will all find out if we get there. So you cannot prove “your point” either.

      Now let’s go to Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of the offering of intercession by Abraham to God, if God could have found “ten righteous people” God would not have destroyed those two cities. Now think about that. The “wicked” would have remained alive just as much as the “righteous.”

      How about when God was going to break His covenant with Abraham, and begin a new one with Moses? He was going to destroy Israel, but….through the intercession of Moses, he did not. God repented often in the OT for “what He was about to do,” because of the intercession made for Israel.

      I am going to leave this with the words of David in 2 Samuel 12:22 He said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, “Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.”

      David right there “fasted” (a work) and “wept” for the child. I want you to look at what He said, “WHO KNOWS?”

      I do not know and you do not know, but not to even try to intercede for the conversion of all sinners, and offer whatever intercession one has to God for them, to me is one of the greatest sins of all! Mankind would not exist today, if this had not been done over and over. The Bible is full of it, and it came in many forms and ways. God Bless, SR

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