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Real Answers™
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Copyright: © 2007 Tom Flannery
655 words

POPE'S PROCLAMATION A DEFECTIVE THEOLOGY

By: Tom Flannery

Well, at least now we know what Roman Catholic Church leaders mean when they talk about "unity."  They are demanding that "defective" Protestant denominations accept Catholicism as the "one true church."

How else to interpret Pope Benedict XVI approving a document saying non-Catholic Christian communities are either defective or not true churches?  For good measure, the document repeated the age-old claim that Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.

They base this claim on "apostolic succession," the erroneous idea that Catholicism can trace its bishops back to the original 12 apostles of Jesus.  The purported foundation of this "unbroken line of successors" is the assertion that the Apostle Peter was the first pope.  Yet when you read the New Testament, you find that Peter was married, he refused to allow people to kneel before him, and he wasn't stationed in Rome (in his letter
to the Romans, the Apostle Paul acknowledged various believers by name -- but not Peter).

Moreover, Peter suggests no such title or authority for himself in Scripture, but rather identifies himself as one of numerous elders of the church (I Pet. 5:1).  And when he was "playing the hypocrite" at one point, Paul rebuked him to his face and Peter stood rebuked for compromising the gospel of salvation by faith alone.  In recounting that confrontation in Galatians 2, Paul reaffirms the true gospel by writing:  "…knowing that a man is not justified [made just in God's sight] by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified."

Salvation is a free gift from God.  Romans 6:23 declares:  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

And as Ephesians 2:8-9 assures believers:  "For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast."  This verse is a six-fold declaration of the true gospel of salvation by faith alone (apart from works of any kind), for it tells us that 1) we are saved purely by God's grace, 2) this grace is imparted to us entirely through faith in Christ, 3) salvation is not of our own doing in any way (nothing we deserve or could possibly earn), 4) it is a free gift given by God, 5) it is not at all of works and therefore 6) we have nothing whatsoever to boast of when it comes to our salvation for it is all God's doing through Christ's finished work on the Cross.

Ephesians 2:10 explains that we are saved "for good works," not by them.  When someone is truly saved by God's grace through faith in Christ alone, good works will inevitably follow as they begin obeying Christ and then continue striving to obey Him for the remainder of their days, despite their moral failings.

The fact of the matter is that salvation is not found in any particular church or denomination, but in a Person -- the Person of Christ Himself, who declared authoritatively:  "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).  He is also the One who promised:  "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24).

We are saved not by doing, but by believing.  John 3:36 tells us:  "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

Any other salvation theology is a defective theology.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; amyfoundtn@aol.com

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