Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Reformation & the Rediscovery of Christian Assurance

But, the sad reality is that Roman Catholicism still plagues its adherents with the lack of assurance. The promise of heaven is something that Rome simply cannot give her devotees. Rome’s doctrine confirms this: “No one can know with a certainty of faith…that he has obtained the grace of God” (Council of Trent, 6th session, paragraph 9). Cardinal Robert Belarmine wrote, “The principle heresy of Protestants is that saints may obtain to a certain assurance of their gracious and pardoned state before God” (De justificatione 3.2.3). Christ’s sacrifice opens the possibility to heaven, but the sinner must rigorously work towards that possibility. And even then, the possibility remains only that.

Rome has many other teachings which demonstrate her heresy of jeopardizing assurance. Purgatory, for example, is a teaching that must exist in a system of progressively earned righteousness. Though heaven is possible for those who “die in God’s grace and friendship,” they must yet be purified, or purged, in Purgatory for an indefinite amount of time. Some learned Catholics you speak with today will portray a nervousness over that indefinite duration.

If you listen carefully to contemporary Roman Catholic theologians, you will hear of assurance only in relation to those who have been canonized as saints. For example, when pope John Paul II and John XXIII were declared saints in April of 2014, one Catholic official said that the declaration affirms that these men are in heaven. For Roman Catholicism, saints are individuals who have been canonized by Rome’s official declaration. They are said to have possessed heroic virtue, performed two miracles (one after their death, which is said to confirm their place in heaven), and are nominated by the church. The saints, then, are usually the only individuals who are said to be in heaven. “The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life, is in heaven, and is to be honored by the universal Church.” Read more

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