You can’t save yourself without others; therefore, says Pope Francis, you can’t have a personal relationship with Christ

The “Church is essential for faith; there are no ‘free agents,’ Pope says,” reports Cindy Wooden. (See also Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY Christians are not made in a laboratory, but in a community called the church, Pope Francis said. At his weekly general audience Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks about the church, telling an estimated 33,000 people that there is no such thing as “do-it-yourself” Christians or “free agents” when it comes to faith. Every Christian, he said, can trace his or her faith back to parents, grandparents, teachers or friends. “I always remember the nun who taught me catechism. I know she’s in heaven because she was a holy woman,” he said.

In the Old Testament, the pope said, God called Abraham and began to form a people that would become a blessing for the world. “With great patience — and God has a lot of it — he prepared the people of the ancient covenant and in Jesus Christ constituted them as a sign and instrument of the union of humanity with God and unity with one another.”

Pope Francis described as “dangerous” the temptation to believe that one can have “a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the church.”

Obviously, he said, it is not always easy to walk the path of faith with other people. “Sometimes it’s tiring. It can happen that a brother or sister creates problems for us or scandalizes us, but the Lord entrusted his message of salvation to human beings, to us, to witnesses,” he said. “It is through our brothers and sisters with their gifts and their limits,” the pope said, “that he comes to us and makes himself known. This is what belonging to the church means. Remember: Being Christian means belonging to the church. If your first name is Christian, your last name is Member of the Church.”

At the end of his talk, the pope asked people to join him in praying that they would never “give into the temptation of thinking you can do without others, without the church, that you can save yourself, of thinking you can be a laboratory Christian.” Christians, he said, are not manufactured in isolation, but belong to a long line of believers who handed on the faith and challenged one another to live it fully.

The audience was the last the pope was scheduled to hold before beginning a reduced summer schedule.

(End of article).

I focus on Pope Francis’s prayer that members of the Church would never “‘give into the temptation of thinking you can do without others, without the church, that you can save yourself, of thinking you can be a laboratory Christian.’ Christians, he said, are not manufactured in isolation, but belong to a long line of believers who handed on the faith and challenged one another to live it fully.”

He equates “doing without others, without the Church,” “save yourself,” and “laboratory Christian.” I am reminded of a  conference on collaborative (team) learning I attended where one of the questions from the audience was: “If we can have collaborative learning, why can’t we have collaborative assessment.” In other words, if we learn together, we should write exams together. Pass one, pass all; and hopefully fail no one – especially if they are nice people.

According to the Pope, God (in Christ) is mediated through the “Church,” defined by Roman Catholicism as the institution consisting of the Pope and his hierarchy. And we all know that institutions do not have one personal bone in their body. And it’s only through cleaving to this clerical institution via the “Vicar of Christ” that Christians are able to cleave to God. So, when Jesus knocks at a Christian’s door (no, he never knocks at an unbeliever’s door, because Jesus doesn’t knock on coffins) and asks to be invited in for supper, for a more personal relationship (“I stand at the door and knock – Revelation 3:21), the Pope would admonish, “What’s with this “more personal!” when “personal” itself is not only forbidden by the Church, but an impossible concept?

Contrary to Pope Francis, Augustine of Hippo writes in his Confessions:

When I shall cleave unto You with all my being, then shall I in nothing have pain and labour; and my life shall be a real life, being wholly full of You. But now since he whom Thou fillest is the one Thou liftest up, I am a burden to myself, as not being full of You. Joys of sorrow contend with sorrows of joy; and on which side the victory may be I know not. Woe is me! Lord, have pity on me. My evil sorrows contend with my good joys; and on which side the victory may be I know not. Woe is me! Lord, have pity on me. Woe is me! Lo, I hide not my wounds; You are the Physician, I the sick; Thou merciful, I miserable.”

Is it possible to cleave to God? A Christian, as Augustine illustrates, certainly can. Such a God is personal, and if personal then surely one can cleave to God’s Person.

The Pope says above that it is “dangerous” to believe that one can have “a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the church.” But Pope Francis’s recently pronounced that salvation is a reward for good works.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – The Holy Father is full of surprises, born of true and faithful humility. On Wednesday he declared that all people, not just Catholics, are redeemed through Jesus, even atheists. However, he did emphasize there was a catch. Those people must still do good. In fact, it is in doing good that they are led to the One who is the Source of all that is good. In essence he simply restated the hope of the Church that all come to know God, through His Son Jesus Christ.”

Then there’s Vatican 2; one of the major outcomes of Vatican 2 was:

Acknowledging God’s presence beyond the Church. The Holy Spirit is working in all religions, including “our separate Christian brothers” (Protestants). Ecumenical efforts should be made to foster dialogue with all religions.” The Catholic Church, since Vatican II (1962-65), has radically changed its attitude towards inter-religious dialogue. Thomas Merton and other Catholic devotees of Eastern thought had a significant influence on changing Rome’s attitude to non-Christian religions. (Nostra Aetate 2 – (Nostra Aetate is the Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions proclaimed by Pope Paul VI, October, 1965). (See Buddhism, Judaism and Catholic Nostra Aetate).

So, who needs the Roman Catholic Church to be saved. Salvation for the Pope, has, of course, nothing to do with a personal relationship with God. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heaven awaits, ’cause doesn’t Jesus say: “I (your neighbour) was hungry…and you fed me (him/her)…welcome into the Kingdom of my Father.” Who then needs faith in Jesus as a (personal) saviour? As we say in French, “personne” (no person).

The biblical God is very personal: “You have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Romans, 8:15) and “they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me (Jesus’ prayer to hid father – John 17:20b). I often hear Christians say “Christianity is a relationship not a religion.” Trite but not complete tripe. More correct is it to say that the heart of the Christian religion is relationship; vertical first, between God and Christians, and horizontal second, between Christians. 

The Pope is wrong to dismiss the personal experience of God. It is true, though, that much of modern popular Christian culture is obsessed with self-discovery techniques where the church is set aside in favour of savouring one’s own personal Jesus. Christians do have a personal relationship with Christ but this depends on faith and trust in what Christ has done in history. Instead, we see personal relationship displacing knowledge: “I don’t wanna know about Jesus, I wanna know Jesus.’’ Such thinking is a disaster waiting to happen. It indicates that you know little Christianity. How in a future heaven or on this or a future earth can you have a personal relationship with someone you know little about? Knowledge, like books, is not everything, but it ain’t nothing. Indeed knowledge of the kind we are concerned with often comes from books, or someone bookish. 

The Reformed (Calvinist) position, is that the relationship we have with Jesus is based on the premises that he has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of  the  father. So, he is not with us in the same way  that people are together in a room. We don’t see Jesus in a  face-to-face relationship. He has ascended on high, so if I am going to relate to him it is through the power of the Holy Spirit and my trust in his work for me. This trust in Christ, is granted by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit somehow unites me too a personal Jesus who is not even in the room. The “invite Jesus into your heart” people think that Jesus can take up “residence in your aorta” – the pipeline to your heart. 

Paul says the Spirit has been sent into our hearts to cry out “abba father”‘ (Romans 8:28). To be in the spirit, says Paul, is to be in Christ, and to be in Christ is to be in the Spirit. We don’t ask Jesus into our heart – dead hearts can’t invite; we trust in him that his work and mercy will  exchange our sin nature for his righteousness (making us right with God; 2 Corinthians 5:21). 

I think, however, that the personal relationship with Jesus has been largely ignored. Jesus says: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4), and Paul tells of his “commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). This is the language of “mystical union” in Christ by the Spirit. Christ is not climbing down from heaven into our hearts.

One of the most marvellous of all the Christian doctrines is our union with Christ (Romans 5 – 6; 1 Cor 15:2). Our union is not only in Christ’s life but in his death: “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20). Are these just “objective” words (outside of me) that I believe, or can they be a personal encounter with God? Both. 

I am the vine, you are the branches (John 15) shows us how the corporate aspect of the mystical union comes into play between parts of the body with Christ as the head. This does not mean, though, that the believer only comes alive (to the presence of God) when he or she is united to other believers (the Church). When I am born again, I meet Christ, person to person, in a mystical way of course. Yet just because this meeting is not physical, this doesn’t mean that it is not personal, this doesn’t mean that Jesus is not taking up residence in my ”heart.” We are given, says Jones, a new power, a new direction, a new disposition – we’re seated in the heavenlies. This power is given by Christ, not the church. This power is consolidated by the church (fellow members of the body). The key issue, though, is that if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature, a new person. Why? Because he has met the person Christ – in his “heart” – but (first) in his head. 

John Frame writes in his “Doctrine of the Word of God.”

The main contention of this volume is that God’s speech to man is real speech. It is very much like one person speaking to another. God speaks so that we can understand him and respond appropriately. Appropriate responses are of many kinds: belief, obedience, affection, repentance, laughter, pain, sadness, and so on. God’s speech is often propositional: God’s conveying information to us. But it is far more than that. It includes all the features, functions, beauty, and richness of language that we see in human communication, and more. So the concept I wish to defend is broader than the “propositional revelation” that we argued so ardently forty years ago, though propositional revelation is part of it. My thesis is that God’s word, in all its qualities and aspects, is a personal communication from him to us.”

There is a mystical union between: Husband and wife, and between Christ and His church – the Body of Christ: Many members, we form one body with unique gifts and roles. The Mystery of Christ – John 17: 20-23 ” …that all of them may be one …so the world may believe that you have sent me …may they be brought to complete unity …” And God and the individual – the Unio Mystica 1. Colossians 1:27 “Christ in you” John 15:5 “If a man remains in me and I in him” 3. John 14:16-17 “for he lives with you and will be in you” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 “God’s Spirit lives in you.” 

You can’t save yourself without others; therefore, says Pope Francis, you can’t have a personal relationship with Christ. I am reminded of a Roman Catholic relative  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 probably gets tis piggy-back view of salvation from the horse’s mouth.

(For a rabbinical view of whether one can have a direct relationship with God see Can a Jew singly cleave to God: it seems not).

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.

Blessed is the man, O Virgin Mary, who loves thy name; thy grace will comfort his soul (Psalm 1): Blessed be the Name

Mariology & Mary Debate: James White vs. Robert Fastiggi.

“This, writes Drew Mery, is an excellent debate on a very serious matter. The thesis of the debate is basically this: Does the devotion given to Mary detract from the glory of Christ? Robert Fastiggi (Roman Catholic) says no. James White (Reformed Baptist) says yes. Call me bias, but Dr. White did a fabulous job in this debate, demonstrating from Catholic resources that the teaching of and devotion to Mary by Roman Catholics does indeed detract from the glory of Christ’s redeeming work. Dr. Fastiggi’s argument basically amounts to him quoting Catholic sources that say that devotion to Mary is not to detract from Christ; but simply saying this doesn’t make it so (a point James White repeatedly brings up). Actions do speak louder than words. Dr. Fastiggi also makes various attempts to support Catholic dogma on Mary by referencing passages of Mary in the Scriptures, but his points require a stretch of the imagination. Watch the debate yourself to find out what I mean.”


Thank you, Drew, for this very useful synopsis. I watched the yesteryear YouTube debate yesterday. Yes, White did a masterful job. Thank our precious Lord for how He has used White through the years and hopefully will continue to do so. At first, I didn’t recognize the lanky hairy man until I heard his voice.

Fastiggi continually emphasised that Mary’s role was to point to Jesus. White cited several Roman Catholic sources that proved otherwise. Fastiggi’s reaction – all smiles. One RC source White didn’t quote was the “Seraphic doctor,” Saint Bonaventure’s “Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary” in which he substitutes Mary for her Creator and Lord.

Psalm 1:1

Bonaventure’s psalter – Blessed is the man, O Virgin Mary, who loves thy name; thy grace will comfort his soul.

Bible – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,

Psalm 3:1a

Bonaventure (Mary replaces the Lord) – O Lady, why are they multiplied who afflict me?

Bible – O Lord, how many are my foes!

Psalm 4:1a

Bonaventure (Mary usurps God’s throne) – When I called upon thee, thou didst hear me, O Lady: and from thy throne on high thou hast deigned to be mindful of me.

Bible – Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress.

Psalm 25:1

Bonaventure (Mary as merciful Judge) – Judge me, O Lady, for I have departed from my innocence: but because I have hoped in thee I shall not become weak. Enkindle my heart with the fire of thy love: and with the girdle of chastity bind my reins. For thy mercy and thy clemency are before my eyes: and I was delighted in the voice of thy praise.

Bible – In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

Psalm 30

Bonaventure – In thee, O Lady, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: receive me in thy grace. Thou art my strength and my refuge: my consolation and my protection. To thee, O Lady, have I cried, when my heart was in anguish: and thou hast heard me from the heights of the eternal hills. Thou shalt draw me out of the snares which they hid for me: for thou art my helper. Into thy hands, O Lady, I commend my spirit: my whole life and my last day.

How much clearer can the blasphemy get! But Roman Catholics just smile; after all, the popes – God on earth – have spoken. Not to forget the Joshuaesque apparitions.

SEE “What have they done to the mother of my Lord?

Can you suffer for my sake?

Jason Helopoulis’s “Rejoice in suffering” contains much of value. There is, however, one thing he says that reminds me of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the “Treasury of Merit,” which teaches that the overflow of the sufferings of Mary and the “saints” are stored up and applied to “indulgences.” Helopoulis uses Colossians 1:24 as a key text. Later, we shall see how others interpret this text.

Here is Helopoulis: (I have italicised the salient portion).

Benefits Others

“We can also rejoice in suffering because of the benefit it has for others. One of the most curious texts in the Scriptures is Colossians 1:24 when Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…” Paul is rejoicing in his suffering, because it is not only a benefit to himself, but also to others. Paul is alluding to the fact that the Church must endure a certain measure of suffering before the return of Christ. This suffering has been appointed by God and He has determined its breadth and depth. It appears to be a set and fixed amount and Paul is fulfilling some of this appointed suffering. And any suffering that he can endure lessens the amount left for the rest of the body of Christ. I have often found this truth to be comforting in the midst of trial. My suffering is not just for me, it is also for others. There is an unseen benefit that is accruing for the entire body of Christ. The rest of the Church will suffer less as I endure this trial for the glory of God.”

Here is the Roman Catholic view

The merits of Christ, since they are infinite, comprise most of those in the treasury of merits. By applying these to believers, the Church acts as Christ’s servant in the application of what he has done for us, and we know from Scripture that Christ’s work is applied to us over time and not in one big lump (Phil. 2:12, 1 Pet. 1:9).

“But what about the merits of the saints—by the doctrine of indulgences aren’t the saints made co-saviors with Christ?”

Not at all. At best they would only be saving us from temporal calamities, which any human may do (and should do!) for another without blaspheming Christ.[19] Besides, the saints have the ability to please God because the love of God has been put in their hearts (Rom. 5:5). It is God’s grace that enables them to please to him. His grace produces all their good actions, and his grace is given to them because of what Christ did. The good actions of the saints therefore are produced by Christ working through them, which means Christ is the ultimate cause of even this temporal “salvation.” “Should we be talking along these lines? Isn’t it better to put all of the emphasis on what Christ alone?”

No. If we ignore the fact of indulgences, we neglect what Christ does through us, and we fail to recognize the value of what he has done in us. Paul used this very sort of language: “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” (Col. 1:24).

(Jim Aiken “A Primer on Indulgences”).

And a Protestant view:

Fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ (Colossians 1:24).

Paul does not here claim for himself extra merit, to be placed in the “Treasury of Merit” for the assistance of souls in purgatory. He was writing from prison, where he was suffering for preaching the Gospel which his Lord had provided at the cost of His sufferings on Calvary. The Lord Jesus had told His disciples that they would be hated of all men for His name’s sake, and so indeed it came to pass, with them and with Paul. (See II Corinthians 11:23-28 where Paul recalls the suffering he had already endured as a preacher of the Gospel).

(“Against indulgences: Roman Catholicism In the Light of Scripture,” Chapter 15, by F. C. H. Dreyer and E. Weller

I suggest John Gill says it best.

for his body’s sake, which is the church;

not in the room and stead of the church, and people of Christ, as were the sufferings of Christ personal; or to exempt them from sufferings who all have their share in this life; nor for their sins to make reconciliation for them, and procure the remission of them; nor to redeem them, or obtain salvation for them, all which is completed by Christ; but for their good and profit, that the Gospel might continue and be blessed to the conversion of many, for the increase of the church and additions to it, and for the furtherance of the Gospel, and that such who professed it might be established and confirmed in it, by the sufferings of the apostle for it: and such good effects did follow upon his sufferings and afflictions; they were for the consolation of many souls, the strengthening of weak believers, and causing even preachers of the Gospel to wax more confident, and more boldly preach the Gospel without fear of man.

Saint Bonaventure, the holiest heretic

For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
(1 Corinthians 11:19)

It is well known that one man’s meat is another man’s – forgive for using “man” and not the politically correct “person.” You must admit, though, “one person’s meat…” would sound silly – poison. En passant, it’s less well known that in France one man’s meat is another man’s poisson (fish). In religion we also know that one man’s heretic is another man’s (true) believer. This does not mean that heretics can’t teach a believer anything, or that a believer can teach a heretic everything. In a Reformation21 blog post, Mark Jones says we can indeed learn from heretics. In his “Quoting ‘Heretics’ Approvingly,” Jones asks:

“Who are Reformed Christians, theologians, and pastors allowed to read? Or, more specifically, who are we allowed to cite positively in our writings and conversations?”

Jones gives examples of heretics that Thomas Goodwin, English theologian and preacher, cites approvingly. One of these “heretics” is (Saint) Bonaventure, called the “Seraphic Doctor.” Although Goodwin, says Jones, accuses Bonaventure of having a defective view of original sin (who hasn’t?), he also calls Bonaventure “the holiest of them (the “Schoolmen” – the Medieval scholastics).

Here is what the “holiest of them” did to the Lord of the Psalms.

Psalm 30

Bonaventure – In thee, O Lady, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: receive me in thy grace. Thou art my strength and my refuge: my consolation and my protection. To thee, O Lady, have I cried, when my heart was in anguish: and thou hast heard me from the heights of the eternal hills. Thou shalt draw me out of the snares which they hid for me: for thou art my helper. Into thy hands, O Lady, I commend my spirit: my whole life and my last day.

Bible – 1. I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. 4. Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. (See more of Bonaventure here).

Let me have a bash. Can I emulate the Seraphic Doctor?

Isaiah 6

6 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also thee, O Lady, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Mother of the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of her glory.

4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the Queen, the Mother of the Lord of hosts.

Well blow me down, I’ve been pipped.

Artist: Bogomater
Bogomater (God’s mother): With thanks, BogRaphy

The Barque of Peter: The least leaky boat?

pope in the boat newWilliam Ockham (No, not the one “of” Ockham), says:

I still have problems with the institutional Church but I believe that Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church with its deep history, traditions and emphasis on reason, offers the best description of the ultimate reality (or as William O’Malley, S.J. describes it, the “least leaky boat”).”

What keeps this “least leaky boat” afloat, and why wouldn’t it be a bad thing to sink it? Let me pull some corks, and then I’ll cork up.

In the Introduction to his “Why Be Catholic?” William J. O’Malley, S.J. writes:

If you have serious problems accepting the Roman Catholic Church, I would suggest—for your own sake—that you sit down and list them on a piece of paper, rather than letting them ramble around your mind, unfocused, vague and embittering. Really dredge them up. Then go back and cross out all those that are truly trivial: “A priest once bawled me out”; “I know some hypocritical churchgoers”; “How was Our Lady bodily lifted outside time and space where bodies don’t exist?” One consistent objection is, “All those rules!” but when pressed, the objector usually is hard put to specify what those rules are. Other than the ones that seem to overemphasize sexuality, what other specific rules do you find insupportable? Finally, go through the cut-down list and ask how many of the remaining objections result from idealistic expectations no humanly embodied institution could satisfy.”

Actually, my protestations result from a comparison between scripture and what I and many Protesants believe is the magnificent humanly embodied instituiton called “Unam Sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesaim.” Here are some of the main Roman Catholic doctrines that stick in the Protestant throat.


Plenary indulgences; for example, occasions as the Bi-millenium of St Paul and the World Meeting of Families and Sydney World Youth day.

If you were lucky enough to have attended this Youth day in Sydney officiated by Pope Benedict and died during or immediately after the meeting (having had no time to sin in thought or deed), you would have been granted a plenary indulgence and so have circumvented purgatory – one million years. Two million years – and winging your way straight to heaven.


Luke 1:46-47 “And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” What does the Saviour save a person from? Sin, of course.

In The Little Office of the Virgin Mary, “Mary occupies a place in the Church which is highest after Christ and yet very close to us, for you chose her to give the world that very Life which renews all things, Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord. And so we praise you, Mary, virgin and mother. After the Savior himself, you alone are all holy, free from the stain of sin, gifted by God from the first instant of your conception with a unique holiness.”

The “Seraphic doctor” of the Roman Catholic Church, Saint Bonaventure goes further. In his “Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary” he substitutes Mary for the Creator and Lord of the universe, making in effect Mary the fourth person of the Godhead.

 Psalm 1:1

Bonaventure’s psalter – Blessed is the man, O Virgin Mary, who loves thy name; thy grace will comfort his soul.

Bible – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,

Psalm 3:1a

Bonaventure (Mary replaces the Lord)  – O Lady, why are they multiplied who afflict me?

Bible – O Lord, how many are my foes!

Psalm 4:1a

Bonaventure (Mary usurps God’s throne) – When I called upon thee, thou didst hear me, O Lady: and from thy throne on high thou hast deigned to be mindful of me.

Bible – Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!   You have given me relief when I was in distress.

(See What have they done to the mother of my Lord).


23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

 The Catholic Forum mentions the following as an ”anti-Catholic whopper.”

 ”Catholics re-sacrifice Christ at every Mass because [they say] we don’t understand that His death on the cross was the FINAL sacrifice.”

In his teaching of the sacrifice of the Mass, Pope John Paul II writes: . . . the Church is the instrument of man’s salvation. It both contains and continually (my italics) draws upon the mystery of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. Through the shedding of His own blood, Jesus Christ constantly (my italics) “enters into God’s sanctuary thus obtaining eternal redemption” (cf. Heb 9:12). (Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (New York: Knopf, 1995, p. 139). The underlined section is the Pope’s rendition of Hebrews 9:12.). The Pope’s “constantly enters” resonates with the Council of Trent’s declaration that the Mass is not merely a “re-enactment”, but a real propitiatory sacrifice, which is repeated at every consecration of the wafer and the wine. “And for as much as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross . . . For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. . . If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice. . . and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities: let him be anathema.”

(See The Catholic Mass, the final sacrifice: A whopping questions).


The Catholic Church teaches: “Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1213). Many baptised babies (reborn as children of God, bornof the Spirit) never come to have faith in Christ, yet, according to “baptismal regeneration” they once were children of God.

The Bible says the Christian was chosen before the foundation of the world to become a child of God:

Ephesians 1

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. … 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Through God’s handiwork, the sinner is made alive by grace though faith. The sinner is created in Christ (born again) to do good works that God prepared in advance:

Ephesians 2

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

John 6

44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

if you are given, you will come (believe). And if you believe, then it inexorably you will be raised up – to eternal life, of course.

John 10

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Believe, or disbelieve, anything as long as you remain faithful to your belief/disbelief. And be good and kind. Then you will be saved.

John 3

18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Here is Pope Benedcit XV:

For the whole of mankind was freed from the slavery of sin by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ as their ransom, and there is no one who is excluded from the benefit of this Redemption …” Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, #1, 1914.

Surely, you can only begin to know what true freedom is once you’ve entered into the life of Christ. So, how can mankind be set free if they ignore Christ: “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Therefore, according to Benedict XV: if you’re a good Buddhist, Jew, Hindu, atheist (?) you receive – in Catholic terms – the ultimate gift of redemption, namely, salvation. It’s also ok to be a Jewish Hindu or a Catholic Buddhist.

Enough already!

Origin of the human body and soul – the heart of the matter: Unam Sanctam Catholicam

The Unam Sanctam Catholicam blog focuses on Teilhard de Chardin. The article “Pius XII, Teilhard and Ratzinger” discusses these writers views on the origin of matter and the human soul/spirit. There are many erudite comments – some lengthy – but none of them, including the article, quote any scripture, which shows the little weight they grant to what should be the ultimate authority on the origin of the human body and the soul. If Christians differ on the Genesis account of the special creation of man (body and soul), there is no way to avoid the unequivocal Romans 5.

(I’ve tried every which way to post this comment on “Unam Sanctam Catholicam,” but no matter how much I try, it persists in telling me I am a robot. How did it know I was One Holy Calvinist!).

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

Here is a relevant paragraph from “Unam Sanctam Catholicam,” which I find to be the clincher among much clanger – of the involved (evolved?) comments.

“According to the doctrine of Original Sin, man originally existed in a state of perfect justice and preternatural glory. Humani Generis reminds us that we must believe in the existence of two literal first parents who were created in grace but fell into sin. Thus, our first parents would have been brought forth in a state of natural perfection with their minds enlightened by grace and an infused knowledge of God; not simply of His existence, but of His perfections and of the fact that man is created to be in relation with Him. In short, our first parents had a very clear and unmistakable notion of God (otherwise how could have been guilty of sinning against Him?) – created fresh from His hands, enlightened in their intellect by grace and unmarred from sin, their understanding of Him in their perfected natural state was greater and clearer than most of us will ever experience. Can this vision of God which our first parents enjoyed prior to Original Sin be reconciled with Ratzinger’s comments that the first conception of God emerged in the human species “dimly” and “stammeringly”? It seems to me that the first conception mankind ever had of God was a glorious vision, full of clarity and infused knowledge, that is unrivaled except by some of the holiest saints.”

Thank you for homing in on the heart of – the matter (oops).

Most Roman Catholics would not go so far as to say – as does the Jesuit evolutionist, Teilhard de Chardin – that matter, the clay of creation, is divine, is spirit in progress:

“Blessed be you, universal matter, immeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards or measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God… I acclaim you as the divine milieu, charged with creative power, as the ocean stirred by the Spirit, as the clay molded and infused with life by the incarnate Word.”

(Teilhard de Chardin, “Hymn of the Universe,” Chapter 3 ”The spiritual power of matter.” See