Does God owe us salvation? Yes, if Protestant theologians (from the Reformation down to today) are right. No, if salvation is a free gift, as the Bible says.
The weirdest and most troubling of Jesus' parables is almost certainly the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16, in which Jesus presents a parable of a manager who, upon being fired, exploits his position to cut deals with his master's clients so that he can try to leverage this into a job with them. Rather than being justly furious, the master *praises him* for his ingenuity. What on earth is going on? Three things to keep in mind with this parable.
Are you interested in sharing the faith more? Are you worried that you don't know how to answer your co-workers' and friends' questions? 1 Peter 3:15 calls us to "always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." That's a tall order. Here are ten tips that might help.
Was sola Scriptura true during the time of the Apostles?Were the Apostles and the first-century Christians bound to follow Scripture alone? These are the two options. You can claim, despite the clear evidence to the contrary, that the Apostles and early Christians believed in Scripture alone. But doing so both undermines John's faith in the Resurrection and renders the New Testament irrelevant. Or you can concede that the Apostles and early Christians didn't believe in Scripture alone. But then you have to throw out all of the alleged "Scriptural proofs" for sola Scriptura, and concede that it's a post-Apostolic man-made tradition that contradicts the written word of God.
If Protestants held every book of the Bible to the standards that they hold the books that they reject, they would end up missing a huge number of their books. And conversely, if they approach the Deuterocanon with the same charitable reading with which they approach (say) Judges, there would be no reason not to include it as part of the Scriptures. We can see that clearly by looking at 5 alleged "Biblical contradictions" in the Deuterocanon.
Let’s talk about the Bread of Life discourse in John 6:22-70. The Catholic interpretation makes sense, but it's a shocking one. We think that this lengthy passage is about the Eucharist, and that Jesus Christ literally means that we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood in Communion. This teaching, radical to twenty first-century ears, was no less radical to first-century ears, and even many of Jesus’ own disciples stopped following Him upon hearing it. Protestants typically disagree with this interpretation, arguing that Jesus’ commands that we should eat His Flesh and drink His Blood are just metaphors. Often, both sides are so busy debating the credibility of the Catholic interpretation that neither stop to seriously ask, “Does the Protestant interpretation make any sense?” The obvious question is if Jesus is speaking metaphorically, what’s it a metaphor for? What is Jesus actually saying?
Protestants frequently claim that there are only 66 books in the Bible. This isn't the Bible used by early Christians, by Luther, by Calvin, or by the Catholic, Orthodox, or Coptic Churches. So where do they draw support? Strangely, they cite a single fourth century Church Father: St. Jerome. But there's a problem with that approach. Or more accurately: four problems.
Certain Protestants have taken to referring to the Scriptures as "66 love letters." That gets something fundamentally right about God's revelation, but goes wrong in three ways.
In the face of a political and personal future that often seems uncertain or unpleasant, it's easy to lose heart and to despair of God's presence in our lives. Fortunately, Scripture presents a radically different message. Here's what Judith, Simeon and Anna have to show us about aligning our lives to God's timetable, instead of trusting in secular salvation.
Just as the Bible presents Abraham as our father in faith for his radical willingness to trust God, we're also given a mother in faith: the Virgin Mary. Listen to what Scripture says about her role in following God from the Annunciation to Calvary and into glory.