Apologetics for the Masses #210 - April 19, 2013

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Hey folks,

A few things:

1) Absolutely loved Tulsa last weekend - wonderful people; the diocesan folks have it going on out there, and I met some whiz-bang home-schooled kids who are going to be absolutely top notch Catholic apologists in the not-too-distant future.  These kids were awesome!  Plus, we had some folks come in from Ft. Worth - about a 5-hour drive - and also some folks from Oklahoma City.  I very much appreciated all of you guys coming out - it was a pleasure and honor to meet you!  I'll be in Andrews, Texas - close to Midland - on May 17/18 at a parish there.  Would love to have anyone in the area come out to say hello.

2) In my last newsletter - the tract on Once Saved, Always Saved - there was a typo on one of the Scripture citations.  The typo read as follows: Romans 17:-24, but it should have been: Romans 11:17-24.  Thanks to those who caught the error and called it to my attention.

3) My newest YouTube video is now up and running - #17 in the "Questions Protestants Can't Answer" series - it is entitled, "Do we have to do the will of God, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?".  Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq9GWpRpcKY.  Once the number of views on this one hits 1000, then I'll release my next video: "What is the only perfect offering?"


In this issue, I'm going to answer a few questions or concerns that came in regarding the last issue on Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS).  Also, I'm going to include a couple more Bible passages that refute OSAS that I wanted to include in the tract, but just didn't have the room to do so.


Question: As a former OSAS adherent, I think this is a very good tract that should provoke some to really think about what they believe.  However, I am bothered by one section: "Even if unbelievers take such drastic measures...they will still be headed to Hell..."  Doesn't this statement go against Church teaching where someone, through no fault of their own does not know Christ can be saved by avoiding sin and doing right?  I know you're not talking about this type of person or that you would necessarily classify that person as an unbeliever in the sense of one who rejects Christ.  An OSAS believer would, however, classify anyone who doesn't know Christ, invincibly ignorant or not as an unbeliever. 

My Response: Yes, the Church teaches that someone who is invincibly ignorant of Jesus Christ and His Church, may be saved.  The Church holds out the possibility that someone who has never known about Jesus, through no fault of their own - and, therefore, cannot accept or reject Him - may be saved by some "extraordinary" means known only unto God.  The reasoning is that since God is a just God, and since He tells us Himself that He wants all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), then it is reasonable to assume that He somehow gives all men some means by which to be saved.  The "ordinary" means of salvation is through the Church and the Sacraments and so on, but there may be some extraordinary means by which men may be saved.  What exactly that extraordinary means is, we don't know, but we do know that that it is available only through the graces merited for us by Jesus Christ.  But, it must be remembered, that invincible ignorance does not automatically get one saved.  One must still live a holy life with whatever graces they receive from God.  The problem is, though, that if it is difficult to lead a holy life with all the graces that we receive through the Sacraments as Catholics - and it is difficult - then how much more difficult to do so without the Sacraments?  In other words, what are the chances of holiness for someone who does not have the Sacraments?  I would think minimal, at best.  Which is why it is so incumbent upon us to whom much has been given, to do what we can to share what we've been given.

Now, having said all that, the statement in my tract on OSAS that is cited above is looking at things from the perspective of the OSAS believer, not from the perspective of the Catholic, so there is absolutely nothing in what I said that is contrary to the Catholic Faith.  For the OSAS believer, non-believers go to Hell, period.  I was simply showing that, from the OSAS perspective, Jesus could not have been talking about unbelievers in Matthew 5 when He says, speaking in hyperbole, to cut off your hand or pluck out your eye if that is what it takes to avoid sin, because unbelievers go to Hell regardless of whether they avoid sin or not - according to OSAS theology; and, in general, according to Catholic theology (exception noted above for invincible ignorance).  I hope that clears that up.

Comment: Good tract!  A couple of notes/points: 1.  Sin and the Bible, 1st and 2nd paragraph, you may need to make the distinction of Jesus using hyperbole to make a very forceful point. It's scary but there are some bible literalists who do not distinguish different forms of speech or literature. 2. You left out one of the primary verses used in the OSAS argument for their belief, paragraph From the Bible.....John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (KJV). That was one of the very first verses I learned for witnessing.

My Response: Regarding both points, I was operating under a restriction of only having so many words that I can put into the tract, so I can't say all that I would like to say were I unrestricted in my comments.  Having said that, to speak to Point #1, I understand that Jesus was using hyperbole when He said to cut off your hand or pluck out your eye to avoid sin, because it is not the hand that actually causes the sin, as the hand can only do what the brain and the will tell it to do.  So, cutting off a hand would not necessarily prevent you from sinning.  Same with the eye - I suppose if you plucked out both eyes, it would definitely help you avoid some sin - such as viewing pornographic materials, ogling women, and such, but just plucking out one eye wouldn't do the trick.  So, it is fairly easy to discern that He was using hyperbole.  Do I need to point that out in my tract, I don't think so, because it is straight from the Bible, and I have never heard of anyone cutting off a hand or plucking out an eye because they read this particular passage, so I doubt anyone who reads my tract would do so.

About Point #2, this is a very good point.  Again, though, I was limited in how many Scripture verses I could use.  The first draft had a whole lot more Bible verses, but it was 2000 words over the limit.  I do think, however, that I am going to go back and substitute John 3:16 for John 5:24.  So, I'll work on doing that before I send anything to the printer.

Comment:  When commenting on Romans 6:16, you wrote, "Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”  The Word of God says that there are consequences to sin - that sin leads to death - and Paul makes no distinction between the believer and the unbeliever."  In fact, Paul has distinguished between saved and unsaved in this context--he is explicitly referring to those who have been saved. 

My Response: Well, in almost all of what Paul says throughout his letters, he is talking to and about believers. And, in Romans 6:16, Paul is indeed speaking to believers, to the "saved," but his comments can be applied to unbelievers as well as believers here, as elsewhere.  If you yield yourself to sin, you will die - spiritually.  That is true of both believers and unbelievers.  So, while Paul is talking to believers, what he is saying applies to unbelievers as well, so it can indeed be said that he is not making any distinction between the saved and the unsaved here.  The ultimate point, however, is that sin does indeed have consequences for believers...it can indeed cause them to lose their salvation.

More Anti-OSAS Bible passages:

Okay, here are a couple more Bible passages that thoroughly reject the notion of OSAS, I wanted to put them in the tract, but just didn't have enough room:

Galatians 5:1-2, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.”  Again, Paul is talking to believers - to those who have been set free.  Does he tell them that once they’ve been set free their worries are over, or that they now have no reason to fear falling away from Christ?  No!  He warns them against submitting again to a yoke of slavery which, in this case, is referring to the Old Testament law.  And if they do submit to this yoke of slavery, what will happen?  Are they still saved?  No!  Christ will be of no advantage to them - they will lose their salvation.  Once saved always saved?  I don’t think so.

Luke 15:11-32: This is the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  There is a son who is in his father’s household, who receives his inheritance from his father, but then squanders his inheritance on sinful living.  He then repents and returns to his father to seek forgiveness.  Upon seeing his son’s return, the father proclaims, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again,” (v. 24).  The Father in this parable represents God the Father.  In terms of salvation, to be dead is the equivalent of being lost, or unsaved.  So it is very curious that the father in the story describes his son as having been dead, but upon repenting and returning to the father, the son is said to be alive "again.”  To be alive again, one has to be alive (saved), dead (unsaved), and then alive again (saved again).  The Parable of the Prodigal Son makes a very strong case against the doctrine of Once Saved Always Saved.  

In Conclusion

No tract is ever perfect, especially one that has space limitations - only so much you can say in 2000 words or so.  But, when all is said and done, all you really need to describe Once Saved Always Saved is three words: Ain't no way! 

I'll be flying to Charlotte this coming weekend for the Catholic Leadership Conference, but I hope to get another newsletter out before then, probably by Thursday.  Have a great week!

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Apologetics for the Masses