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Faith/Spirituality Forum: A question or two about the Catholic faith.

by Catherine Frakas 28 Apr 2001

A question or two about the Catholic faith. QUESTION from Brenda S. Alexander on December 26, 2002 I am currently a member of a Lutheran church, but I am very interested in joining the Catholic church. However, there are a few things that I have been pondering over.
My first question is does the Catholic church believe in capitol punishment for murderers, etc? If it doesn't, please explain why not? We are to abide by the law of the land, aren't we?
My second question is why does the Catholic church not believe in scripture alone?
My third questions is why does the Catholic church not believe in faith alone?
Does the Catholic church believe that good works will get you to heaven or does it believe that you are save by the grace of God?
Thank you so very much, Brenda S. Alexander
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 27, 2002 Dear Mrs. Alexander:
Thanks for writing. We will certainly be in prayer for your discernment as to whether you will join the Catholic Church or not.
As to capital punishment the official teaching of the church is that the state has a right and obligation to protect its citizens against those who would harm them. This includes capital punishment IF there is no other way to protect society.
Capital Punishment cannot be applied for revenge or retribution, it is to be applied only in societies that have no other reasonable way to remove these individuals from society, and it must be applied justly.
That is the official Church teaching.
The Pope's opinion, and the opinion of the Bishops of the United States is that in a society like ours capital punishment is not warranted. Our system has many people on death row who have been found innocent. This is not tolerable. Secondly, our current prison system has the ability to reasonable lockl away capital offenders for life. Some people say, what if they escape? The facts are that those who have committed capital murder, for example, have NOT escaped. The ones we see escaping are murderers of a lessor level that is not capital. In any event, life, all life must be valued. The taking of a life can only be in the most severe last resorts. In the United States we have reasonable protection from capital murderers and thus the death penalty is not warranted.
This is the opinion of the Pope and bishops and is not absolutelyu binding on the faithful, but the explanation I gave at first is binding teaching.
On Sola Scriptura (the Bible Alone), the Catholic Church does not believe in that because the concept of the Bible Alone is unbiblical. NO WHERE in the bible does it say that the Bible is the sole authority. In fact, it says the opposite.
John 21:25 and Acts 20:35 tells us that the Scriptures DOES NOT contain all the things Jesus did or said.
1 Cor 11:2 tells us to hold fast to our traditions handed down to us.
2 Thess 2:15 tells us to hold fast to our traditions whether in writing or orally
2 Thess 3:14 tells us to shun those who do not follow tradition.
For the first 300 years there was no New Testament as we know it. There were many writing circulated some of which were later found to NOT be valid Scripture. For the first few decades there was not New Testament writings at all.
The Bible does not give us the Church, the Church gives us the Bible. The Bible says that it is the CHURCH that is the foundation and pillar of truth, not the Bible (1 Tim 3:15)
The Church Fathers NEVER believed in the Bible alone. The idea of the Bible alone is man-made invention of Martin Luther.
St. Athanasius (360 AD) said: Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called Christian.
Origen(230 AD) said: The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the Apostles, and remains in the Churches even to this time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with eccesiastical and apostolic tradition.
Thus the reason the Catholic Church does not believe in the Bible alone is because the Apostles, the Church Fathers and the whole of Christianity before the Protestant revolt, and the Bible itself refutes the idea.
On Sola Fedei (Faith alone) what I said at the previous question applies here to. NO WHERE in the Bible does it teach faith alone. In fact the opposite. St. James in James 2:24 says that a man is justified by works and NOT by faith alone. The only place in the Bible where the term faith alone appears is in this passage of James.
Martin Luther arrogantly ripped out seven books of the Old Testament, wanted to rip out the book of James and others New Testament books, and ADDED the word alone to the passage in Romans 3:28 in his German translation.
When Luther was confronted on why he messed with the Bible his answer was one of the most arrogant displays of pride since the Devil told God I will not serve.
Luther's response to the criticism of adding words to the bible was:

You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word 'alone' is not in the text of Paul. If your Papist makes such an unnecessary row about the word 'alone', say right out to him: Dr. Martin Luther will have it so', and say, Papists and asses are one and the same thing.' I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough.
Catholics believe we are saved by grace through faith and not by works of the law (which is what Paul was talking about in Romans). But IF we have faith, we WILL express the works of love. If we don't then we have no faith. St. James says, Faith without works is dead.
So yes, it is by faith, but if we do not practice faith through works of love then we have no faith. If we have no faith, then we have no salvation.
Why does the Catholic Church not believe in faith alone? because the neither the Apostles, Church Fathers, or the Bible teaches such a thing (see above).
The Catholic Church is a Church that is in 100% concert with the Bible. In fact the New Testament is a Catholic document. It was written by Catholics, compiled by Catholics, and vetted by Catholics. Without the Catholics the Protestants would not only NOT have a bible, they would not likely know that Jesus even existed.
The Bible talks about being justified by works (James 2:24; it talks about faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Galatians 5:6 tells us that the only thing that counts is faith WORKING in love. 1 Cor 11:2 says that faith without love is nothing. Jesus tells us in John 14:15 that if we love Him we WILL keep his commandments. Matthew 19:16-17 tells us that if we wish to enter into life that we must KEEP the commandments. Keeping the commandments is a work.
The Bible also tells us WORK OUT our salvation (Phil 3:12) and in Matthew 10:22 and 24:13 is says that those who PERSEVERE to the end shall be saved.
The bible simply does not support the ideas of the Bible Alone or Faith alone. These are man-made doctrines that did not exist until the 16th century.
Does the Catholic church believe that good works will get you to heaven or does it believe that you are save by the grace of God?
Salvation is a gift of grace from God.... but to attain that gift we must have faith ... to have faith we must express that faith in works of love. This is the biblical teaching and the teaching of the Catholic Church.
You might want to look at the articles at
That site has many articles that pertain to these sorts of questions.
God Bless.
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