What if Jesus died in vain? How about if the bible is nothing more than a book of fiction and fantasy? What if all dogs don’t go to heaven?
I grew up in a south Louisiana town celebrated for its deep roots steeped in Catholicism. As an Italian-American, it was a completely natural fit to belong to the Roman Catholic church. I enjoyed celebrations, feasts and Friday night excuses for eating seafood instead of meat.
What’s not to love about being Catholic? Honestly I couldn’t tell you anything beyond that. As a family, we never once stepped into a church. I was surrounded by friends attending catechism, counting beads and making communions, and had no idea what it meant.
I came to know Christ (saved) as an adult in a Southern Baptist church. It was an incredible conversion for a twenty-something year old man who had known nothing about the Trinity. I was excited to share my new-found faith with my Catholic parents. Stoically, they accused my wife of leading me into a cult, and my dad said something like, “You’re dead to me.”
The problem with the Catholic church or any religion is when their doctrine holds the potential for leading people astray from seeking Christ. Of course most organized religions do a fantastic job of turning people away from God by trying to turn them into members of what else? Their religion.
The very church I was saved in was a source of original joy. I was on fire for God, so after I dried off from having been dunked in their baptismal pool, I asked an elder what was I was supposed to do next. He said, come back next Sunday. So I did. I asked the same question that next week. I got the same answer to come back next week. It wasn’t many weeks before I realized that attendance, not God, was the focus. I stopped going back.
So the actual problem is that the path to Christ becomes a minefield cluttered by religion, ritual and rules. The actual way to salvation doesn’t require signing a church visitor card, conversion classes, or contributions.
Salvation is a gift from God. To accept that gift is to accept the Father’s son, Jesus Christ. Why? Because Jesus is that gift from God. I’m sure you’ve seen John 3:16 somewhere, but let’s take a moment to read exactly what it says:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” ~ John 3:16
Okay, now let’s take it one step further by reading the second part of John 3 that usually gets overshadowed by verse 16.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
See that? I highlighted the sections for emphasis and because it illustrates the point. It’s not the pope, the priest or the preacher who gets you into heaven. It is almost so simple we tend to think it’s too good to be true. So before we move onto the Catholic position, I want to drop another biblical bomb on you:
“For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, Not of works, lest any man should boast.” ~ Ephesians 2:8-9
If you’ll watch the embedded video, Ben Shapiro asked the Catholic Priest, Bishop Barron about the path to salvation. That’s a softball question, right? Have faith in Jesus Christ by accepting Him into your life as savior (speaking scripturally of course.)
Nope, that would’ve been the easy (and only) path to take. Instead, Barron launches into the Catholic dogma by referencing the Vatican 2¹ as opposed to the bible for evidence of two paths for salvation.
Remarkably, Barron says that Jesus is the “preferred path,” to being saved, but not to worry, for all unrepentant sinners and non-believers, there’s an alternative route that travels through one’s consciousness.
His positional statement of having two paths toward salvation completely dismisses God’s Word. It de-emphasizes the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying to fulfill scripture. And, because we can’t cherry pick the fun parts out of the bible, by dismissing the significance of Christ, Barron eliminates the significance of God’s Word as nothing more than a history book.
But, That’s Not All
The truth is that everyone who calls upon Christ will be gifted salvation. At the very least we must accept Him into our life. God knows you have needs, but He isn’t going to smash down your spiritual door like a SWAT team into a drug den (yeah, I spent 25 years as a cop – old habits!) We simply open the door.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. ~ Revelation 3:20
An atheist can surely be saved, and to be Christian means praying for everyone’s salvation, and I mean everyone. Yes, even that guy you have a serious issue with. But, to be saved requires what? Belief in God. How else might you come to faith and salvation if you don’t believe God exists?
Again, no need to worry about all that messy bible stuff because the Catholic church has made another path thanks to Vatican 2. Barron helpfully explains how atheists can also be saved not by faith or belief in God, but by good thoughts. As spiritual evidence he doesn’t bother quoting Jesus Christ the source, but John Henry Newman (I don’t recall his name mentioned in the bible.)
Here’s The Problem
I’ll be honest; I was shocked the first time I saw this video. To any unsuspecting soul looking for spiritual guidance from a credible source, Barron would have them heading back into a non-transformed life where faith fails, and the promise of happy thoughts are waiting to deliver the most ardent of atheists.
We’re not talking about last week’s lottery numbers. This is eternal existence at stake. If you don’t believe in it, then there’s no need to read any further (but please do because I’m praying for you.) But if you’re cautious, curious or convicted that there is spiritual life after natural death and that God does exist, this position of salvation based on your own good thoughts of conscious or works is dangerously heretical.
Faith and conscious are not interchangeable or equal. Faith is an exercise of trust in things unseen; while our conscious is an emotional posture based on past personal experiences and moral value – or lack thereof. Conflating the two as one is a lie.
Believing that there is God is kind of important for accepting God. If an atheist rejects the truth of God’s existence, then how does he receive a gift from some non-existent gift giver?
Jesus said unto him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” ~ John 14:6
These simple A, B, C principles will serve as solid advice to anyone searching for truth in this life, and a call to draw closer to God:
Avoid any religion that places the worship of man, saints, the dead (unrisen) or their leader equal to or above Jesus Christ.
Become familiar with your life’s owner’s manual, ie…The Holy Bible.
Commit to a life of transformation, and pursue your heart’s path.
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts?
Is Bishop Barron correct about having an alternative path for salvation?
Does religion help or hurt us in pursuing God?
What is the best way to pursue a relationship with Christ?
Do you think eternal salvation is real?
Any other thoughts about this?
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Vatican 2 – Pope John XXIII on Jan. 25, 1959, as a means of spiritual renewal for the church and as an occasion for Christians separated from Rome to join in search for reunion.
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