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Brand Name Salvation?

Brand Name Salvation?
By Jack Kinsella

Store brand toasted oat ring cereals aren’t really Cheerios. They are made from oats, by the same processes, oftentimes in the same factories by the same employees, but they come in a different box, and therefore, they cost about a third the price.

When you pour them in your bowl at breakfast time, they look like Cheerios. They taste like Cheerios. But stores can’t call them Cheerios, so they aren’t Cheerios.

If they called them Cheerios, they’d have to charge the higher price for them to help General Mills pay that cute little bee’s salary for buzzing around the box.

General Mills Inc., tells you their brand of Cheerios are superior to the store brand. That’s why they cost so much more. Exactly how they are superior isn’t clear, but millions of people walk right by the store brand and buy the more expensive box.

But nobody eats the box. The nutritional value isn’t in the packaging, it is in the product. It isn’t the contents you are paying for.

It’s the box they come in.

According to a document signed by Pope Benedict XVI, God is like General Mills.

It isn’t the message that Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins, rose again on the third day, and extends an offer of pardon to all who repent of their sins and trust Him for their salvation that is important.

It’s the messenger.

The Pope explicitly said that non-Catholic Christians aren’t true Christians and that non-Catholic churches are not true churches.

Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” said the document.

Other Christian communities such as Protestants “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense” since they don’t have what’s known as apostolic succession – that is, the ability to trace their bishops back to the original 12 apostles of Jesus.

It was “difficult to see how the title of ‘Church’ could possibly be attributed to them,” said the statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, purporting Roman Catholicism was “the one true Church of Christ.”

The Vatican statement said that non-Catholic denominations, since they can’t really be churches, “do not have the means of salvation.”

What is this statement really saying? In a nutshell, it is saying that the “means of salvation” is a church, not faith in Christ.

It can’t be understood to mean anything else. It can’t be twisted to mean anything else. If the ‘means to salvation’ is restricted to the Catholic Church, then it is church membership, not Jesus.

Salvation comes by faith in a particular church, its pronouncements and its dogma. That is the Vatican’s position. So, what exactly, does the Vatican teach about salvation?

Babies who are not baptized are not saved and cannot go to heaven. They go to someplace called “limbo”, not heaven, and not hell, since they aren’t saved, but have not yet committed a sin.

The Vatican takes its concept of “Limbo” from Jesus’ description of Paradise, (Abraham’s Bosom), the place where those who died in the friendship of God, like Abraham or Moses, waited for redemption by Christ.

But while Abraham and Moses were redeemed, innocent unbaptized babies remain there for eternity. That is entirely an invention with no support in Scripture.

Still, “true” Christians must take that as a matter of faith, since the Catholic Church is the only one with the “means for salvation,” and that is what the Vatican teaches is the truth.

For the rest of us, we don’t go to heaven when we die. We go to “purgatory.”

The Catholic encyclopedia defines ‘purgatory’ as “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”

In other words, satisfaction for sins was NOT fully paid by the Blood of Christ. However, full satisfaction COULD be made through the Church through one of two ways.

In medieval times, you could buy your way out for cash. This was called an ‘indulgence’. If you ponied up enough cash, you could get a ‘plenary indulgence’.

If you didn’t meet the full asking price, you could reduce your sentence by fifty years, a hundred years, five hundred years, whatever.

In modern times, you can get “indulgences” by saying certain prayers on certain feast days. (The Vatican abolished the cash payments principle, after it decided that the previous Vicars of Christ’s infallible pronouncements were in error.)

Now, saying the stations of the Cross prayer litany on November 1st would buy you a ‘plenary indulgence’ — cash donations are optional.

Say you had a loved one who had already died and was suffering in purgatory. You could buy them out, too. (When I was 12, I bought my mother out of Purgatory by saying the stations of the Cross.)

Further, states the Catholic encyclopedia, “All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violation of God’s law.”

Which sins does God consider more serious than others?

Ummm, only the Vatican knows for sure. When I was a kid, eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin.

If you ate a hamburger on Friday and died on Saturday, you wouldn’t go to limbo or purgatory, but would instead go directly to hell. But then, Vatican II determined that eating meat on Friday was no longer a mortal sin. (Another infallible pronouncement bites the dust.)

Can you imagine God’s embarrassment when He was forced to bring all those previously-condemned meat-eaters back into Heaven?

“Sorry, guys, My mistake. The Pope says you can come in, now.”

(Full disclosure: I was a devout Catholic until I thought that one through.)

So, non-Catholic Churches don’t “have the means of salvation” because they can’t pray somebody out of purgatory, buy a plenary indulgence, or baptize a baby out of limbo.

Non-Catholic clergymen (can we call them that?) cannot baptize, cannot forgive sins, neither can they turn bread and wine into the literal Body and Blood of Christ.

No sinner can be saved, according to the Vatican, unless they are officially baptized, forgiven their sins by a priest, and receive communion in the form of eating a wafer that is, by the ‘miracle of transubstantiation’ the literal Body of Christ.

Well, almost. The Vatican makes an exception for those who were never baptized by a priest as infants, but wish they were. The Vatican calls that “baptism by desire.”

God is required to honor that.

And, if you are killed in combat, or a car wreck, or some other violent means, there is a certain period of time after you are dead where a priest can perform Last Rites.

Whether you believed and repented in life is irrelevant, because if you receive Last Rites within that prescribed period, God is also required to honor that and admit you into heaven.

(I used to pray the priest wouldn’t get held up in traffic or be otherwise delayed.)

Non-Catholics do not accept the doctrine of purgatory, so they can’t buy or pray themselves or their loved ones out of it. They don’t have infant baptism, don’t receive absolution for their sins by a priest, cannot eat the literal Body of Christ, or receive Last Rites.

Therefore, they do not have “the means of salvation.”

Catholic apologists argue that the Church is constantly in the process of re-evaluating its positions on plenary indulgences, baptism, purgatory, etc., or that it doesn’t teach those positions today.

The fact is, the Vatican DOES teach those positions, and if it changes its mind, it is either the equivalent of God changing His mind, (which the Bible says is impossible) or it MUST be a case of the Vatican dictating the terms of salvation to God.

Neither of which makes any sense.

Assessment

This is a good place for the chicken and the egg question. Which came first? Salvation or the Church? Was the thief who was crucified beside Jesus a Catholic? (Even Peter wasn’t a Catholic yet.)

Yet Jesus said to him, based on the thief’s confession of faith, “This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.”

Catholic dogma elevates Peter to the position of the first Pope based on his answer to a question Jesus posed to His disciples.

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:14-15)

Since that was the wrong answer, a buzzer sounded, and then Jesus asked the Double Jeopardy Question.

“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

“That’s absolutely correct! You win the Double Jeopardy Round. Tell the audience what he’s won, Johnny.”

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

“That’s right! For being the first one to correctly answer the Double Jeopardy Question, you win the Ring of the Fisherman! You are officially the First Pope.”

The fact that Jesus is the “Christ, the Son of the Living God” was NOT the Rock upon which He would build His Church, the Vatican teaches. Instead, the Vatican claims that PETER is the Rock upon which the Church would be built.

The whole “Christ, the Son of the Living God” part is therefore irrelevant.

Since Peter is “the Rock” — and not Christ’s Deity that the Church would be built on, Christ was addressing Peter, (and his successors) and NOT those who put their faith in Christ, when He said,

“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)

If this were the correct reading of these passages, that the Lord was giving Peter the keys to heaven and the power to bind or loose in heaven, then the context of the next verse would mean the Church would never consist of any more than those present on that day.

“Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ.” (Matthew 16:20)

The Vatican argues that this particular verse was negated by His subsequent giving of the Great Commission.

But they also deny that His claim that He, Jesus, was the only way to heaven (“I am the way the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by Me”) has any bearing on Peter’s (and his successor’s) authority to let people in, or exclude them from heaven.

It’s all quite convenient.

Only three verses after Jesus Christ elevated Peter to the position of Pope, giving him God-like power and authority, Jesus specifically calls Peter “Satan.”

“But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23)

That’s not quite so convenient. So, therefore, it is irrelevant.

Please understand this: I am NOT saying that no Catholic can be saved, even though the Pope says no non-Catholic can be saved. One can be a Catholic and be saved, if one puts their faith in Christ for their salvation and merely attends a Catholic Church.

What I AM saying is that nobody can be saved solely by membership in the Catholic Church or that membership is the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation.

Nobody can be saved by keeping the rules the Catholic Church. Paul says anyone who seeks to be justified by the Law will be judged by the Law.

Both the Bible and honest self-evaluation make it clear that nobody can keep every single tenet of the Law. And “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)

The idea that God divides sins into minor (venial) and major (mortal) is not supported by Scripture. And if He does, which sins are which is a closely guarded cosmic secret.

If breaking the Ten Commandments qualify as mortal sins, then the Vatican is in violation of the prohibition on graven images. Therefore, the Catholic version of the Ten Commandments omits that one.

(Don’t take my word for it. Look it up for yourself. The official Vatican version omits Exodus 20:4 and then divides Exodus 20:17 into two parts so as to still add up to ten.)

The pronouncements of the Vatican CANNOT be the “means to salvation.” Salvation is a “gift of grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Faith in Peter does not qualify. Keeping Church Law does not qualify. Doing good works does not qualify.

Being baptized does not qualify. Going to confession does not qualify. Receiving communion does not qualify. Receiving last rites does not qualify. Obtaining plenary indulgences does not qualify.

The Bible outlines the qualifications for salvation.

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For HE is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, EVEN THE LAW OF COMMANDMENTS CONTAINED IN ORDINANCES; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:” (Ephesians 2:13-16)

The Pope is a man. The ordinances of the Vatican are not Biblical, but the ordinances of men. The Vatican’s legacy from Peter IS Biblical, but it isn’t that Peter is “the Rock”.

Its legacy is from three verses down: “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

There is but ONE Rock upon which Jesus Christ built His Church; the confession of faith that Jesus “is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It isn’t the messenger that saves us.

It is the Message.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on July 17, 2007.

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