Tag: faith

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Reformation Day Ironies, 500th Anniversary Edition

This year, in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I've decided to do another round of "Reformation Day Ironies." This year's theme is "Luther against the Reformation," looking at the various ways that Martin Luther spoke against the Reformation he helped to spark, including what he had to say on the papacy, teaching authority, and schism.

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Did Vatican II Change Church Teaching On the Church?

Chances are, if you've done any reading about the Catholic Church's vision of "the Church," you've probably come across the claim that everything changed at Vatican II. Prior to Vatican II, as the story goes, the Catholic Church thought that only she was "the Church;" after Vatican II, she recognized that the Orthodox and Protestants (and perhaps even non-Christians!) also form part of the Church. But is it true?

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In Defense of Exaggerated Marian Devotion

A Marian procession in San Cataldo, Sicily, for the Feast of the Assumption.
Protestants aren't the only ones who find Catholic devotion to Mary a bit over-the-top sometimes. A lot of Catholics find other Catholics, including great Saints like Alphonsus Liguori and Louis de Montfort, to be a little "much" when talking about the Virgin Mary. I get it. Take the Salve Regina, for example: it calls Mary "Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope." How is that kind of effusive flattery theologically defensible? After all, Our Life and our Hope is Jesus Christ.

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Is Salvation Our Doing, or God’s?

Michelangelo, Creation of Adam (1512) [from the Sistine Chapel ceiling]
What percentage of our salvation is our doing, and what percentage of it is God’s doing? This is a common way of approaching the question of salvation, and it’s a driving force for a lot of bad theology. For example, Steven J. Cole claims that Roman Catholicism "teaches that in order to gain enough merit for salvation, we must add our good works to what Christ did on the cross." That's a common misunderstanding: since Catholics believe human cooperation is necessary, that must mean we're reducing God's credit from 100% to something lower, right? And it's ultimately for this reason that Martin Luther and later Protestants (most famously Calvinists) will argue that man’s free will in the realm of salvation is basically an illusion: we provide 0% to salvation. Why? To ensure that God gets 100%.

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