Monday, January 30, 2012

(69) Was the Reformation for Nothing?

       When we invited students to participate in our newly formed Newman Club, we mentioned that we would have Bible studies.  Billie Shepherd answered the mass e-mail to the students:  "It's about time that Catholics read the Bible.  She had a point.  Evangelicals are better than we Catholics in reading the Bible.  As I continued to include her on our e-mails of minutes and agendas, Billie would often reply with a barb  or a question.  That stimulated discussion, blogs, and e-mail replies with our meeting agendas. 
WAS THE REFORMATION FOR NOTHING?

         Below are her latest comments and questions with my answers.  The most intriguing is her third question, Was the Reformation for nothing? 

1) What a saint is according to the Bible. It's quite good. I agree; we should become holy, that is a saint on earth, so Purgatory won't be necessary for us. I answered that quite thoroughly in my November 7 e-mail and Blogs #18, 19, and 20 of http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com .

2)Thanks Paul :) Have to keep you on your toes aay? :) Yes you do. We'll make a Catholic out of you yet (joking). Your comments do make us think about the Lord and stimulate thought. The more we learn about other faiths, the more we learn about our own. The more we understand each other, the more we can work together in this great spiritual/cultural war against secularism. The battle is too large for one faith alone. Let's think more about what unites us than what divides us (Blog #7 on Ecumenism). Come to one or more of our meetings. I appreciate your interest and participation.

3) Dear Readers, Have you read Martin Luther's  95 Thesis? Grace is free, you don't have to pay for it, you don't have to work for it. Was the reformation for nothing? Can you 'pay' someone out of hell? Does hell exist right now? www.helltruth.org. First of all, did you objectively read my article on Purgatory?   Read it with objectivity to understand where I am coming from.
a) Martin Luther pushes for some much needed reforms which came in the Council of Trent and the Counterreformation. By being patient and continuing to push while continuing to follow his vow of obedience, he might have been a saint today.

b) Yes, grace is free for the asking in prayer and coming closer to God through prayer and the sacraments which Christ instituted for us. The foundations of the sacraments are biblical. The sacraments, especially the Eucharist (John 6) are a rich source (the Divine presence) of grace which our separated brethren are missing. However, one must be in the state of grace and of proper disposition to receive them. Of course Penance (Confessions) requires only the proper disposition. Good works does bring merits which God rewards. Penance and prayer does bring indulgences, but you can't buy them, a gross error at the time of the Reformation.

c) Of course hell exists and there's absolutely no return...... even all the riches of the world will not ransom one because the sinner refused Christ's redemptive grace. Christ is a God of great mercy and also justice.

d) Was the reformation for nothing? Absolutely! Yes, indeed! All 35,000 Christian sects that arose from it are heresies, relative to the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Every time there is a serious doctrinal disagreement within a church, a group goes off and forms its own church......even in little Gallia County. The devil feeds on division. You need a Pope (i.e., the Magisterium of the Church) to resolve these disputes. The Reformation is the greatest tragedy to befall Christianity since Christ established it over 2000 years ago, since it caused division and conflict, persecution and prejudice on both sides, even causing wars down to this day. You asked the questions and I gave you my sincere answer. 
 
        We've been picking up the fractured pieces for the last 450 years and trying to put it back together. In unity there is strength against the forces of evil. From the Bible, we know that it is God's will that “all may be one”. That's why ecumenism is so important and we should continue working for Church unity.

        The Counter Reformation would have eventually come, but I concede that the Reformation accelerated it. Throughout history, God raised up saints to clean up corruption as Christ said in Matthew 16:18-19, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” when He commissioned St. Peter to be the first Pope and the succession continues to this day. 

        I understand that before he died, Martin Luther regretted the Reformation. Had the reforms of the Council of Trent come sooner, I doubt that Martin Luther would have deemed that the Reformation was necessary. Can anyone say that over 5000 different Christian sects is the will of God? In the Gospel of John, Christ pleaded in prayer, “that all may be one”. That disunity is a scandal to all of the non-Christians of the world and probably impedes the spread of Christianity.

          Some people are so anti-Catholic and so oppose the Church because they don't understand it. They are full of misconceptions about it. Scott Hahn, a brilliant Presbyterian pastor and theologian at Grove City College went through a long theological struggle as the eminent British theologian of the 19th Century, before finally converting to Catholicism and brought two or three other Presbyterian ministers with him. He is now a professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and a nationally known author and speaker. A transcript of his conversion story is on http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0088.html and he describes it on www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8RMvmrheE0 .

         Where in the Bible does it say: “By faith alone”? St. Paul clearly refutes that in his epistles as 1 Corinthians 13. And so does St. James in the 2nd Chapter of his letter. Where is “By scripture alone”? In 1Timothy 3:15, St Paul sees the Church as the pillar and foundation of truth as the apostles and early Church fathers handed down.  

          When one goes into the writings of the Early Church Fathers of the first three centuries, they can clearly see what was handed down from the Christ's apostles. Unable to answer these questions, the basis of the Reformation, a number of Protestant theologians returned to Rome, among them the eminent British theologian of the 19th Century, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. Thus the Magisterium of the Church in arriving at the truth through study and prayer, uses primarily scripture, but also tradition handed down and revelation which is mainly Biblical.

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