This past Thursday, the country witnessed yet another senseless shooting; this time in Oregon. A 26-year old man, Christopher Harper-Mercer, entered a community college and opened fire, killing nine innocent people. He was described in the New York Times as a lonely man who spent much time on the Internet, disliked organized religion, and was an aficionado of the Nazis and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). According to the report, he asked his victims their religion. "While reloading his handgun, the man ordered the students to stand up and asked whether they were Christians, ..."And they would stand up, and he said, 'Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second,' " Stacy Boylan told CNN, relaying his daughter's account. "And then he shot and killed them."
Of course, had this evil man been shooting Moslems, we would hear the left-wing media telling us about "Islamophobia," because if you're not politically correct, you must have a mental disorder. We haven't heard a thing about "Christophobia," and we never will. I bring this up because Harper-Mercer bought into the Protestant heresy of "Justification by Faith Alone" (hereinafter "JFA"). The Vatican II sect signed the Joint Declaration on Justification on October 31, 1999, which basically accepted the heresy (they accept anything except the Truth).
I pray that those victims were in the state of Grace (justified) when killed, thereby obtaining Heaven either immediately or after Purgatory (salvation). However, simply because they claimed the title "Christian" does not guarantee they are going to see God. This is why three things are all important:
- Belong to the One True Church of Christ
- Always strive to live in the state of Sanctifying Grace
- Pray daily for the Grace of Final Perseverance
The Heresy of JFA
Basically, JFA can be summed up as follows:
- Justification is extrinsic, not intrinsic. When someone "accepts Christ as their personal Lord and Savior" God's Grace covers up their sins, like snow covering feces. God no longer sees a sinner worthy of wrath (which you remain) but He sees His Only Begotten Son in Whom He is well-pleased. Hence, humans are "justified." "Sin boldly, but believe more boldly," declared arch-heretic Martin Luther. How did they arrive at this idea? By a five-point doctrine they declare in an acronym called "TULIP."
- T is for "Total Depravity." The sin of Adam did not merely wound human nature, as Catholic doctrine teaches; humanity was defiled so that all acts are worthy of damnation. Catholics see the preternatural gifts (bodily immortality, infused knowledge, Sanctifying Grace, and impassibility) as superimposed on human nature. When Adam sinned, he lost these gifts for himself and his progeny. Think of parents who are rich, but squander their wealth. The children will be born in poverty, but they can work their way up the economic ladder. JFA wrongly considers those gifts to be con-natural to human nature, like sight to the eyes. In sinning, Adam had his eyes gouged out, and his progeny is born sightless. They can't work to get their sight back.
- U is for "Unconditional Election." God simply picks and chooses whom He will save. This is His right, as He has no duty to save anyone.
- L is for "Limited Atonement." Christ only died for those He unconditionally elected. He really did not die for all humanity.
- I is for "Irresistible Grace." Once you have been elected, you will believe and become Christian as God's Grace cannot be rejected.
- P is for "Perseverance of the Saints." Once saved, always saved. You cannot lose your salvation. Justification is thus equated with salvation. There is no difference.
If God picks whom He chooses, how can you know you're "saved"? Some claim belief is enough, but in times gone by, it was thought that if you were rich, God's favor was upon you. Blessings of this kind show He has favored you. This was the basis of the "Protestant work ethic." Get rich, and you're probably saved. So much for the virtue of evangelical poverty.
If God's Grace is irresistible and you can't lose your salvation, say goodbye to freewill. Suicide is wrong because God commands not to do it, but there is no logical reason not to go to Heaven sooner. Some will claim that such an act is proof you "didn't really believe." This leads you right back to the problem of how you know you're "really" saved, when a simple declaration of faith is claimed to suffice.
Ask a Protestant about the fate of infants, the retarded, and habitually insane. They can't have faith. While on the one hand Faith is claimed to be indispensable for salvation, on the other hand, they quote the Bible where Christ said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." (St. Matthew 19:14). That being the case, why not have an abortion and assure your child's salvation? Euthanize the insane and retarded as well, and get them to a better world.
The Catholic Truth
- Original Sin consists in the deprivation of Sanctifying Grace. Baptism restores Grace even in infants, since what was lost without personal fault can also be restored without personal assent.
- Justification is the restoration of Grace in the soul, whereby people are intrinsically cleansed of sin and made righteous in the sight of God due to the application of the merits of Christ's redeeming death on the cross.
- Justification can be made stronger by good works and lost by mortal sin.
- No one of the age of reason, except by a personal, private revelation from God, can be assured of their being in the state of Grace, or of their salvation. One should thereby "workout Thy salvation in fear and trembling." (Phil. 2:12) We must pray for Final Perseverance ("But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved." St. Matthew 24:13)
- Justification can be restored by perfect contrition and/or the sacrament of Penance.
- People are predisposed to Justification by actual graces that enlighten the intellect and move the will, but grace can be rejected by the freewill of people.
- Those who are baptized belong to the Church until separated by heresy, schism, or apostasy. Infants in false sects who are validly baptized are Catholic until they take instruction in their false sect.
- Someone who dies justified (in the state of Sanctifying Grace) will receive salvation (Heaven, before or after Purgatory). "Once saved, always saved" is true in this sense: If you are saved (i.e. in Heaven or awaiting Heaven in Purgatory) you cannot be damned.
- Someone who dies outside the Church, or as a member of the Church in mortal sin, is not justified, and will be damned forever to Hell.
- Protestants attempt to explain away Jesus' teaching on works by saying His teachings were hypothetical, or He wanted to show people cannot be saved by keeping the Commandments, or that His teachings are reserved for some future "millennial kingdom," but none of these hold up on examination.
- In the story of the Rich Young Ruler (See St. Matthew 19:16-26), Jesus commends the man for his Faith and obedience to the Commandments and teaches this is necessary for salvation. Jesus calls him to a higher level of obedience by giving all he has to the poor. Christ concludes that if he does not do so he will be forever lost; therefore, works pleasing to God must be added to Faith for justification.
- Some heretics attempt to use St. John 5:24 as proof of JFA: "Amen, amen I say unto you, that he who heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath life everlasting; and cometh not into judgment, but is passed from death to life." However, they do so without admitting Christ never used or implied the word "alone" in conjunction with "belief" or "faith." They also tear out the context. Four verses later, Jesus says, "And they that have done good things, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment." This clearly indicates they will be judged by their works.
- The attempt to use the Good Thief as proof of JFA also fails. This man showed a knowledge that Christ hadn't done anything wrong, admission that he was rightfully there for his own wrongdoing, and showed a willingness to follow Christ in all He wanted done. Even if this were an exception and he was saved by his faith alone, we don't make the exception the rule. All must be baptized by water as the usual means of admission into the Church to be saved. Admission by baptism of desire or blood (BOD and BOB) are exceptions to water, but they are the exception and don't negate the rule. Just as God can save extra-sacramentally by a miracle of Grace, so too, could He save the Good Thief.
An evil man killed Christians this past week in a fit of anti-Christian rage. Whether he said they would see God before killing them to mock the Protestant conception of JFA, or whether he thought in his sick and twisted mind that he was really sending them to Heaven (and getting rid of them on Earth), is unknown. We would all do well to understand what justification really means. I'm sure none of those nine people woke up that day thinking someone would shoot them for professing Christianity. How many were actually saved? If you were there, what would have been your fate? Let that sobering thought guide you to live each day in God's Grace so that you will not be caught off-guard should He return "like a thief in the night." (See 2 Peter 3:10)