The Catholic Church has always looked to the good thief as an example par excellence of conversion (see Luke 23:39-43). This is why he is called good. But for some Protestants, the good thief, traditionally named St. Dismas, is good for a different reason than his last-minute conversion.
It would seem that his story justifies doctrines held by many Protestants. For example, Dismas was saved without baptism, which at first glance could give reason to believe that baptism is not necessary for salvation.
Another doctrine held by many Protestants that the narrative seems to justify is that works are not necessary for salvation. I remember several years ago, while I was sitting in the optometrist’s chair with the big tech-y glasses on, my doctor attempted to persuade me that the good thief didn’t do any good works to receive his reward of salvation, he simply had faith. My doctor was trying to use Dismas’s story to justify his belief that we’re justified by faith alone.
Finally, on the surface, the story of Dismas appears to justify the Protestant rejection of purgatory. How could purgatory exist, so the argument goes, when Jesus told Dismas he would be with him in heaven on that day?
Saved without baptism
Saved without works
No pit stop necessary
The other day I received a rather lengthy email from a fellow responding to a chapter in my book, Nuts and Bolts – A Practical How-To Guide for Explaining and Defending the CatholicFaith, specifically responding to my defense of calling priests “father.”
Score One Up For the Protestants
An Earthy Argument
The Catholic Response
What Does the Bible Say?
The context of Matthew 23 emphasizes the sin of pride among the scribes and Pharisees. They loved to be called “teacher”, “father”, or “Rabbi,” but their pride pointed men to themselves rather than to God the Father from whom they received true fatherhood and in whom their fatherhood subsisted. Outside of God the Father, there are no fathers at all in the true sense of the term. But in God, we have all sorts of true “fathers.”
Ultimately, Jesus is condemning the usurpation of the fatherhood of God in Matthew’s Gospel, not the proper participation in that fatherhood.
Even though I was brought up in a devoutly Evangelical home, I wasn’t baptized until I was 21 years old. We attended an independent Bible church with an essentially Baptist theology, and the irony about this Baptist theology is that it actually de-emphasized baptism. What mattered was being “born again” or “saved,” if we had responded to an altar call and “accepted Jesus into our hearts.” This personal experience was all that was necessary to assure us of eternal salvation. Baptism and communion (while they were not dispensed with altogether) remained unnecessary symbols of our inner faith.Travel the Romans RoadBorn of Water and the SpiritIs It Enough to Believe and Confess?Baptism of Blood, Baptism of DesireIncorporate It
Here’s a wonderful apologetic article wrote by Mr. Mark Shea [5 Myths about 7 Books] that dealt on these an untenable standards:
Christ and the Apostles frequently quoted Old Testament Scripture as their authority, but they never quoted from the deuterocanonical books, nor did they even mention them. Clearly, if these books were part of Scripture, the Lord would have cited them.
The deuterocanonical books contain historical, geographical, and moral errors, so they can’t be inspired Scripture.
The deuterocanonical books themselves deny that they are inspired Scripture.
One of the most unfortunate misunderstandings about the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist is that it consists of sacrificing Jesus Christ again – that at every Mass Christ is continually killed, continually suffering, continually dying, day in and day out. This misconception is partially due to the malice of certain detractors, and partially to an honest confusion over the relation of the Mass to the Sacrifice of the Cross. The Catholic Church does teach that the Eucharist is truly a sacrifice, and that it is truly our Lord Jesus Christ; therefore it is not too much of a stretch for those unfamiliar with Catholic teaching to wrongly assume that we believe our Lord is being killed at every Mass. While it is beyond the scope of this article to give a comprehensive treatment of the theology of the Eucharist, let us at least lay this bugbear to rest by showing that the Church does not and has never taught that Christ is sacrificed again in the Mass, as well as elucidate the true Catholic teaching on this particular point.
The Sacrifice of the Mass and Calvary
May 01, 2013
The idea that Jesus of Nazareth is a fictional character, like Batman, is a fringe view among historians. This view, commonly called mythicism, was first argued seriously by the quirky nineteenth-century German critic Bruno Bauer. Karl Marx was one of Bauer’s students, and after mythicism became popularized by Arthur Drew’s 1909 book The Christ Myth, this view became the de facto belief among communists. The Soviet Union mandated the teaching of mythicism in public schools and banned materials that attempted to refute it (Leslie Houlden, Jesus: The Complete Guide, 729).
But scholars, both religious and nonreligious, outside the former USSR reject mythicism. John Dominic Crossan, who co-founded the skeptical Jesus Seminar, denies that Jesus rose from the dead but not that he was an historical person. He writes, “That [Jesus] was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be” (Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, 145).
Do your homework
Jewish evidence for Jesus
Roman evidence for Jesus
Christian evidence for Jesus
Paul’s mysterious silence
“Dying and rising” copycats
One of the great deceptions of our time is that serious sin is only a remote possibility for most peopleWe must be more serious and matureSimply listing mortal sins is not sufficientNevertheless, the Lord, in love, wants to warn us urgently of the sins that exclude us from HeavenRather than continue with a lot of commentary, I’d like to post five biblical lists
- Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were (1 Cor 6:9-10). (List #1)
Finally, here is a general warning from the Lord:
The Written Word
Oral Transmission of the Word
The Right to Interpret
The aim of the Rosary
Protestants sometimes charge Catholics with “vain repetition”
So what is “vain repetition?”
That’s what Jesus means in the second half of Matthew 6:7
The Rosary is not an emptying out but a filling up
This Eastern form of meditation is actually not only vain, but spiritually dangerous
The Rosary is powerful and transformative
At a certain point in my life it became clear that I could not remain a typical American Evangelical. But where would I end up? One option I considered was becoming Eastern Orthodox.
For an Evangelical discovering more traditional forms of Christianity, accepting certain Catholic beliefs (purgatory, indulgences, papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, etc.) is very difficult.Word FightsFilioqueThe PapacyFractured Unity
October 01, 2008
I am probably a rather unusual convert to Catholicism, in that my spiritual journey to Rome involved both the other major world divisions of Christianity—Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
Not Quite “Catholic”
Does Orthodoxy Make Sense?
Proposition 1: Infallibility is to be recognized in the solemn doctrinal decisions of ecumenical councils.
An Insufficient Proposal
Proposition 2: Infallibility is to be recognized in the solemn doctrinal decisions of those councils which are not only papally confirmed as ecumenical, but which are also subsequently accepted as such by the whole Church.
A Murky Question of Membership
Proposition 3: Infallibility is to be recognized in the solemn doctrinal decisions of those councils which are not only papally confirmed as ecumenical, but which are also subsequently accepted as such by the whole community of those Christians who adhere to true doctrine.
Proposition 4: Christians can come to know with certainty what is true doctrine by recognizing the solemn doctrinal decisions of those councils which are not only papally confirmed as ecumenical, but which are also subsequently accepted as such by the whole community of those Christians who adhere to true doctrine.
A Problem at the Root
One Mediator, Two Priesthoods
So I Send You
Not Just Anyone
The Perfect Future
To put it simply: God’s power being released “from heaven” is contingent upon a future event of Peter and his successors acting on earth. That, in a nutshell, could be a dictionary definition of priest.
At first, it seems like such a revelationTake, for example, the church at SmyrnaAnd this is the way that ChristiansSo why is this important?This isn’t just about rejecting the Church’s teaching authority
The Catechism says of Mary:This Adoptionist heresy manifests itselfOther Protestants say that “Mother of God”
Who is the rebellious Korah?
Old and new priestly prerogatives
Let the light shine
We must read the New in light of the Old, and the Old in light of the New.
December 14, 2017
The Facebook Challenge
1. Pliny the Younger
3. Flavius Josephus
The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Paschal mystery, making present his unique sacrifice in the liturgy of the Church.
1. Sacramental nature of the Holy Eucharist.
1.1. What is the Eucharist?
1.2 Names given to this sacrament
1.3 The Eucharist in the sacramental order of the Church
2. The promise of the Eucharist and its institution by Christ
2.1 The promise
2.2 Institution of the sacrament and its Paschal context
2.3 Meaning and content of the Lord’s command
3. Liturgical celebration of the Eucharist
3.1 The fundamental structure of the celebration
The notion that the Church restricts access to ScriptureIt is widely believed that Luther was first to translate the Bible into GermanThe sixth century was witness to…The Real Story
Scriptural Basis for Confession – Where is Confession in the Bible?
Objection #1: Only God can forgive sin.
Objection 1A: Do I have to confess my sins to a priest? A priest is just a man – what power does he have to forgive sin?
Objection #2. The Bible says that if I believe that Jesus is Lord, I’ll be saved. Doesn’t the need for Confession mean Christ’s work was lacking in some way?
Objection #3: Why do I have to go to a priest for confession instead of going straight to God? After all, the Bible says that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
Objection #4: Confession is nothing more than a permission slip to keep sinning. Since people keep sinning even after going to Confession, doesn’t that mean it doesn’t work?
Sadly, this is not an uncommon tacticUnfortunately, slavery returned to European societyYet despite the many papal condemnations of slavery
So Long “Solas”The Ancient, Catholic ChurchThe Old Testament CanonThe Perpetual Virginity of MaryBaptismal Regeneration
The Annunciation and Virgin BirthJesus and MiraclesJesus as ProphetThe Divine NatureSo, we can find some common ground
Why aren’t more Christians rich?Why wasn’t Jesus rich?The poor can be rich
Where does the Bible say we are not purified of sin after death?Where does the Bible say we should make Jesus our personal Lord and Savior?Where does the Bible say all revelation ceased after the apostolic age?
Words and Works
Fide, not Sola Fide
Luke’s accountPhenomena-what?Before and afterWe can admit that there is a mystery…
The Church’s understanding of the papal ministry…A second kind of evidence…A final line of evidence…Jesus prays in John 17:21…
Value, Dignity, and the Christian Worldview
Naturalism, Value, and Dignity
The Problem of “Equal” Value
Reception and the Sense of the Faithful
Clarifying the “Sense of the Faithful”
The ITC on Reception
Conditions for the Sense of the Faithful
Opinion Polls and the Sense of the Faithful
August 22, 2011 by Fr. Bartunek
Understanding “Grave Matter”
Sins vs Mistakes
Why Communion and Mortal Sin Don’t Go Together
THE GRAVITY OF SIN: MORTAL AND VENIAL SIN
Where does this verse appear in Scripture?
WHO’S WHO IN THIS PASSAGE?
Who is the serpent?
Who is the serpent’s seed?
PROPHESY #1: IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
PROPHESY #2: THE VIRGIN BIRTHPROPHESY #3: DEFEAT OF SATAN BY THE MESSIAHPROPHESY AS PROOF
“Give us this day our supernatural bread.”Working in the Fourth Century A.D., St. Jerome translated the Bible from Greek into Latin, creating the Vulgate Bible. St. Jerome translated epiousios as “supersubstantial.” What’s also interesting is where St. Jerome was working: Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ. Do you know what “Bethlehem” means in Hebrew? “House of bread“.
Forgiveness in the age to comePaying your duesA temporary prisonA Maccabean milieuConclusion
Patti Armstrong Jul. 6, 2016
No Exceptions Allowed
“The fact that these transformations have occurred in a Christian context cannot be avoided,” he said. “And neither can the fact that they confirm the original and enduring doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.”
Exodus 20:4 is part of the first commandment that begins in verse 3 and stretches through part of verse five:By lifting out part of the first commandment appearing to prohibit the making of “any likeness of anything,” not only do you have God contradicting himself in later commanding the making of statues, but you also end up making the first two commandments repetitive.Though the commandments are said to be “ten” in Exodus 34:28, they are not numbered by the inspired authors of Sacred Scripture. If you count the “you shall nots” along with the two positive commandments of keeping holy the Sabbath and honoring father and mother, you end up with 13 commandments.
Flowery, poetic language that is not intrinsically literal in nature or intent.
Interpreting the words in context (especially a Christological context).
To speak of a human being as participating in “saving” others is perfectly biblical:
1 Corinthians 9:22
1 Timothy 4:16
2 Corinthians 4:15
Here are 12 quotes from the Early Church that leave Protestants grasping at straws to explain them away. Read all 12. These are not obscure men or obscure writings. They are saints who are firmly within the mainstream of Christian history. Another 12 quotes could have been selected just as well. If a Protestant disagrees, he must ask himself, how were these guys all so clueless and why did later generations of Christians revere them so much? There must be Christian writers from the same period who were “in the right” about these topics, so can you find them?
The Promises of the Contraception AdvocatesThe concerns and predictions of Pope Paul VIThe divorce rate did not decline; it skyrocketedAbortion rates did not decline; they skyrocketed as wellWomen’s dignityAs for preventing/reducing STDs and AIDSAdd to this list of effectsDeclining birth ratesConclusion: Time will prove where wisdom lies. What have we learned over these decades of contraception? First, we have learned that it is a huge failure in meeting its promises; it has backfired, making things worse rather than better. Marriage, families, and children have all taken a huge hit. Bad behavior has been encouraged and all the bad consequences that flow from it are flourishing. Most people seem largely uninterested in this data. Hearts have become numb and minds have gone to sleep. I hope that you will consider this information thoughtfully and share it with others. Time has proven where wisdom lies. It is time to admit the obvious.