Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #28

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

For any of you who are subscribers to the National Catholic Register, please look for an article featuring yours truly in this week’s edition. It’s in the “In Person” feature on the front page. Or, you can read it online at www.ncregister.com. I believe the title is: “From a Rock and Roll Lifestyle to the Rock, on a Roll.”

On a more serious matter, a few issues back I asked for prayers for a little boy named Peter, who is not yet 1-year old (see “Conclusion” – Issue #21). The following is an update on him…please keep praying for him, his condition is still very serious:

“The last few efforts to close the fistula, which is preventing an attempt at reattaching his bowels, have not been successful. The surgeon has not given up though and has a few experimental things he is willing to try if things don’t turn around in the next few days. Can’t wait too much longer because the liver is being taxed too heavily with the TPN/IV feeds only. Need to get mother’s milk into the gut which will allow TPN feeds to back down thus giving his liver a break and hopefully stimulating other beneficial things. Not to play anything up, but you can let them know that the hole that is refusing to close, occasionally pours out, at the same
time, blood and a water-like fluid. He really is on the cross.”


This is the first round of my email debate with Dr. Joe Mizzi. The terms of the debate are in Issue #26. In this round, I will follow-up on my claim that Dr. Mizzi has misrepresented Catholic teaching on salvation on his website, while he answers a question that I asked him. Both his and my comments will be posted on his website (www.justforcatholics.org) and my website (although I don’t know the exact timing of the posting on my site as it depends on the availability of the web guy I use…but it will be in the near future.)


To recap: Dr. Mizzi states the following on his website in regard to what Catholics teach on salvation: “So then, what is required for a person to be justified at the end, that is, to be accounted to have fully satisfied divine law, and therefore to merit eternal life? Trent answers: THEIR GOOD WORKS! Their good works fully satisfy the divine law. Their works merit eternal life.”

I emailed the following to him in regard to those statements: “Again, you mis-characterize Catholic teaching. Our good works, in and of themselves, do not ‘fully satisfy the divine law.’ Our works, in and of themselves, do not ‘merit eternal life.’ Both characterizations of Catholic teaching are false."

Round 1

To show that Dr. Mizzi has misrepresented Catholic teaching on salvation, I wish to start by quoting his website:

“So then, what is required for a person to be justified at the end [according to Catholic teaching], that is, to be accounted to have fully satisfied divine law, and therefore to merit eternal life? Trent answers: THEIR GOOD WORKS!

I have read through the Council of Trent’s “Decree on Justification,” and nowhere do I find it saying what Dr. Mizzi claims it says. So, first I would ask him to give me the exact quotes that he uses to come to the conclusion he has stated on his website. Where does the Council of Trent say that men are accounted as having fully satisfied divine law by “THEIR GOOD WORKS!”?

Next, I will give the actual words of the Council of Trent regarding justification (as found in: “The Sources of Catholic Dogma,” by Denzinger):

“…so unless [men] were born again in Christ, they never would be justified, since in that new birth through the merit of His passion, the grace whereby they are made just, is bestowed upon them.” (Denzinger, p. 249)

“…man himself receiving that inspiration [of the Holy Spirit] does nothing at all inasmuch as he can indeed reject it, nor on the other hand can he, of his own free will, without the grace of God, move himself to justice before Him.” (Denzinger, p. 250)

“…the meritorious cause [of man’s justification] is His most beloved only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who…merited justification for us by His most holy passion on the wood of the Cross, and made satisfaction for us to God the Father…” (Denzinger, p. 251)

“…no one can be just but he to whom the merits of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated…” (Denzinger, p. 251)

“…we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because ‘faith is the beginning of human salvation,’ the foundation and root of all justification, ‘without which it is impossible to please God’ [Heb 11:6] and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and are, therefore, said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace itself of justification; for, ‘if it is a grace, it is not now by reason of works…’” (Denzinger, p. 252)

“Canon 1: If anyone shall say that man can be justified before God by his own works which are done either by his own natural powers, or through the teaching of the Law, and without divine grace through Christ Jesus: let him be anathema.” (Denzinger, p.258)

Again, Dr. Mizzi has misrepresented the Catholic Faith by giving visitors to his website the impression that the Church teaches that our works, in and of themselves, “merit eternal life.” That our works, in and of themselves, “fully satisfy divine law.” Yet, I have shown that the Council of Trent, which he claimed as the source for his misrepresentations, clearly teaches that we can do nothing pleasing to God in and of ourselves. That without the merits of Jesus’ death on the cross, we are lost.

Dr. Mizzi’s position on justification is actually very close to the Catholic position on justification. The difference is that he believes we cannot “merit” anything. But, instead of focusing on that aspect of our differences on his website, he has instead distorted the whole of Catholic teaching in this area by claiming Trent teaches we are saved by our good works…period! The quotes above show that he is indeed distorting Catholic teaching.

End of Round 1 comments

The agreement was for 600 words per Round, and my word counter tells me I was right at 600. So, that’s it for this week.

In Conclusion

There are only 3 rounds to this debate, so we’ll finish it up in the next few weeks. After that, I have some exchanges with other Protestants that I’ll start sharing with you and which I think you will find very interesting…at least, I hope you will.

As always, comments are welcomed. And, as always, please share this email with folks on your email list…please let others know about the Bible Christian Society website (www.biblechristiansociety.com) and all of our free apologetics materials.

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Apologetics for the Masses