You misrepresent Catholicism

Dear Sir,

I have thorougly examined this website for a religion assignment. I attend a Catholic High School in Illinois and am a Junior. First of all, the Catholic church teaches you that salvation comes from the SACRAMENTS, not the Church itself. The sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist (<--two most important), Confirmation, Last(not necessary, anyone can do this really) Rights. I am not sure what sacraments other religions have, but if they have these, according to the Church they CAN be saved, not guaranteed.

And in fact, Catholics do NOT tell people not to read the Bible. They don't say anything on the matter really. It is just kind of there for you. I read it and the only thing that I understand are the Gospels, they are straighforward and to the point. Everything else can be comprehended in so many ways, literally or contextually. It is unfathomanable for any one person to know everything and comprehend everything correctly. (Catholics believe in the context). Personally I understand the whole thing better when a priest explains it anyway, even then, multiple meanings can be withdrawn from the reading(s).

My response is in Green:

Thanks for writing me. I also thank you for correcting me, I have never meant to misrepresent the Catholic church. However, I am not sure we really differ on what we are saying. You say that Catholics don't believe the church saves you, okay, but what I said was that Catholics believe that if you are not part of the church you won't be saved. Could that be because only the Catholic church is allowed to preform the sacraments?

If I am wrong I am truly sorry, but that is not really my problem with the beliefs of the Catholic church anyway. You say that the church does not save you but that the sacraments do. I disagree with that, I believe what Jesus said: (John 14:6 NIV) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

I believe that the sacraments are worthless unless you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. He is the ONLY way to get to heaven, and you can know that is where you are going, without any doubt. (John 11:25-26 NIV) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; {26} and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" Notice that Jesus did not talk about the sacraments anywhere in those passages? If we were saved by the sacraments wouldn't Jesus have mentioned them?

You say I am wrong by saying that the church discourages Bible reading. Okay again I think there is a fine line between what we are both saying. You say the church does not say either way it is there if you want to read it, yet you say that no one can understand it. That is my point the church stresses that to understand the Bible you need a Priest or someone else to explain it to you. To me that is discouraging people to read it for themselves. Why would someone read something they are told they won't be able to understand? I believe that the Bible is God's Word and that if you read it and ask Him He will help you understand it.

I am not against Catholics but I will tell you if Sister Teresa did not accept Jesus Christ as her savior (and I am not saying she didn't, I have no way of knowing) then she is not in heaven. Period. No amount of good works will save you, no amount of sacraments will save you, only Jesus Christ can save you. I did not say that the Bible clearly says it, and anyone can understand it if they will just read it for themselves. That is my problem, if the church does not stress salvation through Jesus Christ then they are not doing anyone a service. You made the statement that anyone who does the sacraments CAN be saved, not guaranteed, I am telling you that you can be guaranteed a place in heaven. You don't need anyone to pray for you after you die either, in fact that would do no good. (Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV) "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, {28} so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." See Paul is saying that you die and then there is the judgment, if you have not accepted Jesus as your savior in this life it is too late no matter how many people pray for you.

The Bible is easy to understand, maybe not every verse at first, but the more you read it and ask God to reveal to you what it means the more you will understand for yourself. You said it is unfathomable to believe any one person could understand everything in the Bible, but then you say that you understand it better when the Priest explains it to you. Don't you see if no one can understand it why trust the Priest's interpretation of it?

I am not trying to give you a hard time, but I want to stress to you that the Bible says that the only way a person is saved is through Jesus Christ, no more no less. That is truly the only important thing in all of Christianity, because without that you are lost. We can disagree on everything else but the Bible does not leave any room for disagreement about this. (Acts 4:9-12 NIV) If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, {10} then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. {11} He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' {12} Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Again notice that it says there is no other name by which we must be saved.

(1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NIV) Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. {2} By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. {3} For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, {4} that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

(Ephesians 2:4-9 NIV) But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, {5} made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. {6} And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, {7} 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. {8} For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- {9} not by works, so that no one can boast.

(Titus 3:4-7 NIV) But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, {5} he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, {6} whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, {7} so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

None of these verses are hard to understand, they all say exactly what they mean. Whether you agree with me or not, I would ask you to just ask Jesus Christ into your heart as your savior. It really is that easy and it is guaranteed.

Take care and please feel free to write me again if you like.

Ralph Dettwiler


E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)

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