Hank Hanegraaff recently wrote an article entitled Catholics and Salvation. Whenever I hear Hank or CRI talk about Roman Catholics I am reminded of the debate I have between Dr. Bob Morey and Elliot Miller called The Ecumenical Debate. Elliot Miller was and maybe still is (I don’t know) the editor-in-chief of The Christian Research Journal which is CRI’s magazine. Dr. Morey is a Reformed Protestant who can be found at http://www.faithdefenders.com/. Dr. Morey’s position was (is) that Rome is a false church with true teachings and Miller took the opposite position. It’s an interesting debate and Morey really came out on top. He quoted Vatican I & II to back up his positions while Miller had no real rebuttal. I digress.
In the article Hank’s first two sentences are “To begin with, let me state up front that Catholics do not teach salvation by works. In fact, the Catholic church firmly maintains that man can only be saved by God’s grace.” Okay great! Mormons say we are saved by God’s grace too! The fact lone that Jesus Christ came bringing salvation is in itself an act of God’s grace. So then anyone can claim they are only saved by God’s grace. But what do they mean by that? Hank continues mentioning that RC’s teach that God in justifying us makes us righteous (infused righteousness) and this is why only in the end will RC’s know if they’re truly saved. The problems I see with this is that it says that God gives you the ability to save yourself and if you do well in the end you will actually be saved. Therefore, it falls back on man to secure his own salvation. That’s a scary thought!
Continuing further as Hank makes my point for me. He says that RC’s see faith as a “passive agreement” and consider human works as vital to justification. The reason is they see “God’s grace working through and perfecting believers”. Well, if we are made righteous and our faith is passive how is it then God who is at work? The first two processes shift the nature of justification to the individual. The RC position seems to tell us that it is God who is there giving us the tools it is then our responsibility to use them properly to gain ultilmate justification and save us. Interesting, Hank.
Remember Hank’s first sentence, “To begin with, let me state up front that Catholics do not teach salvation by works.” Towards the end of the article Hank then says, “Catholics say that justification results from a combination of faith and works made possible by God’s grace.” So RC’s believe we are saved by faith AND works, but not just works. Um, yeah. Then he goes on to say the RC position is simply “confused”. I’d say. Hank tells us that we cannot say RC’s claim salvation by works. Okay, great! It’s faith plus works and that makes it all better? I don’t think so! Faith and works are opposed to each other and it cannot be God and us that saves. Sorry, Hank.
Hank does go beyond the benefit of the doubt when he says, “Though they can be rightly faulted on these points, no one can legitimately claim that Catholics teach a crass system of salvation by works.” Right, Hank. We can rightly say that RC’s teach a crass system of salvation by works and faith which is a false gospel.
I have heard people who’ve called in to the Bible Answer Man show and try to get on the air referencing the above debate with no success. That would be an interesting dialogue.
PS: If we could only get Hank to debate Dr. White on this subject……..