Thursday, August 29, 2013
Once Saved, Always Saved - The Biggest 500 Year Old Lie
I'm not sure how old this heresy is. The one that says that once you're saved, you're salvation cannot be canceled. I guess it began during the Protestant Reformation, but it could have existed as far back as Arianism.
Anyway, it's probably one of the oldest lies, still making it's rounds especially among the Evangelicals and several mainstream Protestant denominations.
Many Protestants and almost all Fundamentalists believe that private interpretation of the Bible thumps Church authority. In most cases there's no central Church authority, except probably the pastor who set up his church. Firstly, it's interesting that members of a Fundamentalist church give more respect to their Pastor (whom the Scriptures never confirmed that Jesus built His Church upon that guy) but are dead against the Catholic Pope (whom Scriptures confirm Jesus built His Church upon)!
Back to today's theme, based on my private interpretation.
The premise behind this fallacy is that once you say a magical phrase, a force field envelopes you and even God can't prevent you from entering Heaven. That abracadabra phrase is, "Jesus Christ is my personal Savior." Guess what, this theory is not found in the Bible. Maybe I missed it and hope you can point out to me the verse.
Too many Protestants believe that either you can't sin, because you made that declaration, or the sin can't stop you from entering Heaven.
In today's reading for the day, in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, St. Paul makes it very clear that God wants us to live Holy lives. He wants us to keep away from sin. Now why would the Wise One want us to do that, if sin can't affect me? After all St Paul was writing to Christians, people who have apparently been saved and can never falter.
St Paul goes on to talk about karma - what goes around comes around. There will be pay back day, if you sin. So how can anyone claim they can't sin because Jesus' Precious Blood automatically stops them from sinning, or that they won't ever see punishment for sins committed after taking Jesus as their personal savior.
Finally, St. Paul says that anyone who sins, is rejecting God, by rejecting the Holy Spirit. Now, as I understand it, if you don't have the Holy Spirit, you don't enter Heaven. Period. Now, I'm beginning to wonder if St. Paul has a good understanding of this hypothesis about "once saved, always saved." If he did, why waste time writing a letter that is useless to people who have been saved and will remain saved, whatever they do. To be saved means you have been cloaked with the Holy Spirit and Paul is warning that you can easily chuck the Holy Spirit aside by sinning.
Without the Holy Spirit, you don't have the force field anymore and you're doomed. Now that's the reason why Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So that the Holy Spirit will return to you and help you so that you can eventually enter Heaven.
Catholic theology simply teaches that salvation is not a one off event that occurs when you say some magical phrase but you build on your salvation as you walk through the temptations of life and come our victorious through God's graces. And that's why also Scripture teaches us to work out our salvation.
Sure, Jesus has done the heavy lifting, but we too have some light lifting to do. It's like Jesus's death blasted a path through a mountain, but we have to clear the debris along the path that leads to Heaven.
This is the reason Protestants poke fun at Catholics because they are never sure if they're goint to enter Heaven. Now you know. We don't pretend that we cannot sin because of baptism or by saying that Jesus is my personal savior.
Today's Gospel reading from Matthew 25:1-13, just proves that this thinking is false. Why would Jesus warn people to be ready for the Savior to return? What do they have to be ready for, if they've already accepted Jesus as their personal saviour? What else is there to do?
Obviously, a lot. That's why those who knew Jesus can go astray and be surprised that they were locked out of the Biggest Party in the Universe. They tried to claim to know Jesus by calling Him Lord. And God said, "and who are you again?"
God doesn't owe you Heaven just because you claim He's your buddy. You got to prove it, just as you prove to your spouse by remembering the wedding anniversary. You can't tell her, since you've taken her as your personal wife, that you don't need to work on your marriage.
The world has abandoned belief in Hell because they assume that God being the Ultimate Benevolence can make Hell disappear and force everyone (including those who hate Him) to sit with Him in Heaven for eternity - what torment that must be for those who hate Him.