Book Critique of Return to ROME by Dr. Francis J. Beckwith

Return to ROME
By Francis J. Beckwith

6 – Every Word a Little Branch

Page 96: Although it had become clear to me that the Church Fathers were far more Catholic than they were Protestant, I needed to be convinced that their views on justification were consistent with scripture. I also had to be convinced that the “Catholic practices” that were impediments for me – the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the teaching authority of the Church (including apostolic succession and the primacy of the Pope), and Penance – were legitimate Christian beliefs and practices with long orthodox histories. It did not take long to be persuaded.
Note: Should you believe in the infallibility of the Pope heresy?
Pope Alexander VI, born Roderic Llanšol i de Borja (Valencian), Spanish: Rodrigo Lanzol y de Borja; 1 January 1431 – 18 August 1503), was Pope from 11 August 1492 until his death. He is the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, because he broke the priestly vow of celibacy and had several legitimately acknowledged children. Therefore his Italianized Valencian surname, Borgia, became a byword for libertinism and nepotism, which are traditionally considered as characterizing his pontificate. Of Alexander's many mistresses the one for whom passion lasted longest was Vannozza (Giovanna) dei Cattanei, born in 1442, and wife of three successive husbands. The connection began in 1470, and she had four children whom he openly acknowledged as his own: Cesare (born 1475), Giovanni, afterwards duke of Gandia (born 1476) , Lucrezia (born 1480), and Goffredo or Giuffre (born 1481 or 1482).
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith should not rely on the fallible Catholic Fathers.

Page 97: Once I ceased approaching the biblical text with methodological Prottestantism, it was nearly impossible for me to get forensic justification from the teachings of Jesus. At the Last Judgment, for example, the difference between the sheep and the goats is between what they did and did not do (Matt. 25:31-46). There is no indication that Jesus is thinking of the sheep’s “works” as “evidence of justification.” But rather, these works serve in some way as the basis on which his judgment of their eternal fate is made. It would be absurd, for example, for a judge in a court of law to tell a guilty defendant that his guilt was not based on the defendant’s actual deeds for which he was being prosecuted, but rather because the deeds are evidence of the guilt he had before he had actually engaged in the deeds.
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith forgets that the Gospels are under the “law” context.
Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Galatians 3:21-25.
Note: The Catholic Church puts its members back under the Old Testament law.

Pages 97-98: Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.” In Revelation 22:11-12, John quotes Jesus as saying, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.” In Matthew 19, Jesus connects the possession of eternal life (or salvation) with keeping the commandments, selling everything one owns (as he applied it to his questioner), and leaving everything including one’s family if necessary.
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith forgets that the Gospels are under the “law” context.
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Galatians 4:1-7.
Note: Rewards for works should never be confused with eternal salvation.

Page 98: It is the bearing of fruit, the hearing and acting on Christ’s words, the doing the will of his Father that constitute the life of faith, a life likened by Jesus to a house that could fall if not adequately constructed to withstand severe adversity.
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith forgets that the Gospels are under the “law” context.
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40.
Note: Rewards for works should never be confused with eternal salvation.

In John 14, Jesus tells his followers a bit of what it will mean when he says, “because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). He states, “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:20-21).
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith goes outside of context to be justified by works.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15:11-14.
Note: Rewards for works should never be confused with eternal salvation.

Pages 98-99: The Gospel of Mark recounts these words of Christ, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34b-35). In Mark 4, Jesus explains the parable of the seeds in which he tells his listeners of those who receive the word “with joy,” but it has “no root” and thus “they fall away” immediately “when trouble or persecution arises” (Mark 4:16-17 NRSV). He also tells of “the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:20 NRSV).
Note: Christians will confess Jesus Christ to the point of death for salvation.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:8-11.
Note: Rewards for works should never be confused with eternal salvation.

Page 99: Mere imputed righteousness seems like the furthest idea from what one finds in these and other sayings of Jesus. What one finds is an active faith by which God’s grace gives us new life (not just new status), and therefore there is a responsibility of obedience on our part to remain faithful, bear fruit, practice charity, and persevere. It is only later in the Pauline and non-Pauline Epistles – as the Church’s doctrines begin to develop – that the people of God receive clarification on the role of God’s grace in the life of Christian obedience. This is what I call the journey of justification.
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith forgets that the Gospels are under the “law” context.
Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:21-24.
Note: The Catholic Church puts its members back under the Old Testament law.

Page 100: If one looks at the wider context of Romans, what Paul seems to be saying in chapter 4 is that the works of the Mosaic law do not forensically justify, in the sense that one can accumulate enough works in order to please God, just as one would raise enough cash in order to pay off a debt to a creditor. Remember that the context of Romans concerns the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians, the former of which were suggesting to their Gentile brethren that obedience to the Mosaic law – especially circumcision – was a necessary condition for entrance into the Body of Christ. When Paul writes of “works” in the context of Romans 4 he is writing about the requirements of the Mosaic Law (or “works of the law”), including circumcision. He is not denigrating works per se, as we shall see below. He is, in fact, criticizing those who see obedience to the Mosaic Law as earning the salvation which God will owe them as a reward for their works. But that’s not the Christian Gospel.
Note: Righteousness of God is given to Christians through faith in Jesus Christ.
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. Romans 3:19-22.
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith idea that works is necessary to be justified is heresy.

Pages 100-101: There is no doubt that Abraham was reckoned righteous precisely because he acted in faith. But Romans 4 does not say whether this is a once-and-for-all forensic imputation of righteousness, which is the Protestant view. For the scriptural quote in verse 3 – “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” – is from Genesis 15:6, in which we are told that Abraham believed God after the Lord had promised him numerous descendants. Yet, James 2:21-24 states that Abraham’s faith justified him years after that incident when he obeyed God and attempted to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:1-19). The text claims that when Abraham performed this work “the scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’; and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23). However, the book of Hebrews teaches that Abraham was a man of faith in Genesis 12, chronologically prior to the incidents referenced in Romans (Gen. 15) and James (Gen. 22): “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go” (Heb. 11:8).
Note: God works through Christians by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. Galatians 3:5-9.
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith idea that works is necessary to be justified is heresy.

Page 101: Thus, it seemed clear to me that in order for it to be unreasonable for one to dispute the Protestant interpretation of Romans 4, the text would have to unequivocally state that Abraham was reckoned righteous at one decisive moment and yet remained inherently unrighteous, which is the Protestant doctrine of forensic justification. But it does not say that. Consider this example. If a jury declared that Fred is inherently innocent, though he in fact may be inherently innocent. Nothing, therefore, about a defendant’s inner state of being (whether he is in reality innocent) follows from the legal declaration of his innocence. Thus, if Fred were to become inherently righteous as a consequence of an intrinsic change in him because of God’s infused grace, a just God would have warrant to also legally declare him righteous.
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith idea that works is necessary to be justified is heresy.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:8-11.
Note: Did you notice that the above verses are in the past tense?

Page 101: So, then, the real question is whether Paul and the other non-Gospel New Testament authors teach that the entirety of justification is mere imputed righteousness that occurs once and for all. The answer at which I arrived was “no.” The following is a brief encapsulating of my reasoning, which unfolded and crystallized over a several-month period of reading and reflection.
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith idea that works is necessary to be justified is heresy.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. Titus 3:4-8.
Note: Good works will follow by the Holy Spirit after a person has been “justified.”

Pages 101-102: In Romans 5:19, Paul writes, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” If Adam’s sin had real ontological consequences for human nature – “many were made sinners” – as this passage clearly indicates, then Jesus’s death and resurrection has real ontological consequences as well – “many will be made righteous.” It seems, then, that original sin and infused grace are a package deal. This is why it seems to me that Paul can sternly reject the value of works for justification apart from one’s becoming a “new creation”: “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Gal. 6:15).
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith idea that works is necessary to be justified is heresy.
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29.
Note: Good works will follow by the Holy Spirit after a person has been “justified.”

Pages 102-103: Paul writes to the Colossians that Christ “has now reconciled” them “in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present (them) holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that (they) continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which (they) heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Col. 1:22-23). Paul tells the Philippians to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13). He teaches the Galatians that “he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8). In his second letter to Timothy, Paul writes “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” and consequently, “there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). In this passage final justification is awarded for keeping the faith and persevering, but these are connected to a certain sort of inward change, the love for Christ’s appearing.
Note: Dr. Francis J. Beckwith idea that works is necessary to be justified is heresy.
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.
Note: Rewards for works should never be confused with eternal salvation.

Pages 104-105: Some Protestant writers claim that this passage from James is not inconsistent with forensic justification, since the works spoken of here are the effect of the cause of saving faith. But, as Baptist New Testament scholar Paul Rainbow points out, “In vain do we search in James 2:14-26 for any statement of a casual relationship between faith and works or between righteousness and obedience. What jumps out from the material is a thrice-stated avowal of the instrumentality of justification, that is ‘by works’ ….” Other Protestant writers argue that James is addressing the public display of one’s salvation by one’s works in order to show evidence of one’s salvation, that is, to “justify” it in front of others. But that’s an implausible reading, since James’s focus is clearly on God’s justification of the Christian and not on public displays of righteousness. After all, the story of Abraham and Isaac occurred in a place isolated from the general public. Rainbow correctly points out that “the drift of the passage is to present human beings before God in good favor.
Note: James was writing to Jews under the law not Gentile Christians.
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. James 1:1.
Note: Cults love to misquote James for their salvation by works.

Page 105: It seems to me that James is indeed a problem if one maintains a forensic view of justification. But if one brackets that view and opens oneself to the Catholic view – that justification is the result of infused rather than imputed grace – then one need not think of “works” as activities by which one earns heaven as if one were appeasing a creditor in a debtors prison. Rather, a Christian’s good works are performed in order that the grace that God has given us may be lived out so that we may become more like Christ. As I have said, the purpose of “good works” for the Catholic is not to get you into heaven, but to get heaven into you. The Catholic already believes that he or she is an adopted child of God wholly by God’s grace. For the practicing Catholic, good works, including participating in the sacraments, works of charity, and prayer, are not for the purpose of earning heaven. For good works are not meant to pay off a debt in the Catholic scheme of things. Rather, good works prepare us for heaven by shaping our character and keeping us in communion with God so that we may be “holy and blameless and irreproachable before him” (Col. 1:22).
Note: Why is he backtracking on works and is Catholic somberness like heaven?
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4.
Note: Catholic focus on “good works” minimizes the work of the Holy Spirit.

Page 106: Once I abandoned methodological Protestantism, I could not find the substance of the Reformed view of justification in my reading of the New Testament without artificially forcing the text into Protestant categories. To be sure, I was fully aware how Protestant theologians made their case, and I was capable of following their reasoning. But I no longer found their case convincing. Moreover, the Reformed distinction between justification and sanctification, though seemingly defensible in light of certain biblical texts when isolated and explained by Reformed theologians, just could not be sustained in light of the entirety of the New Testament canon. Add to this the historical novelty of the Reformed doctrine of forensic justification as well as the development of sacraments, practices, and doctrines in both the Eastern and Western Churches that were totally oblivious to the Reformed view, and it seemed to me that Protestantism’s view of justification had an enormous burden that it could not meet.
Note: Has Dr. Francis J. Beckwith become a non-believer through his works?
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29.
Note: Are you doing the “work of God” by your sincere belief in Jesus Christ?

Page 109: Remember, the Reformed view assets that good works follow from true conversion and are part of one’s post-justification sanctification. Presumably, if one claims to have been converted to Christ, i.e., justified, and no good works follow, then one was not ever really justified. This means that for the Protestant view of justification, good works are a necessary condition for true justification. The fact that the good works occur chronologically after conversion does not change their logical character as a necessary condition for justification. On the other hand, the Catholic view of justification requires a faith, wholly the work of God’s grace, that involves more than mere intellectual assent, but is manifested in works of love, while being renewed and nurtured in prayer and the reception of the sacraments so that one may be conformed to the image of Christ. Thus, in a sense, both the Protestant and Catholic views require “works.”
Note: Christian salvation comes by sincere confession and belief in Jesus Christ.
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43.
Note: Are you doing the “work of God” by your sincere belief in Jesus Christ?

Pages 109-110: And neither view is better at establishing for the believer subjective certitude of heaven. For example, the Protestant, who said the sinner’s prayer or answered an altar call, but shows no evidence of justification, is likely to have less certitude about his eternal fate than the faithful Catholic who, confident in God’s promises, regularly attends Mass, receives the sacraments, engages in spiritual disciplines, and tries to obey the commands of Christ. This Catholic eagerly opens himself to the means of God’s grace at his disposal. The Protestant can repeat the sinner’s prayer and answer the altar call until the cows come home. But if she shows no evidence of justification, “good works,” her eternal fate remains in serious doubt. On the other hand, one can no doubt find an obsessive-compulsive Catholic who quakes in his boots every day, wondering if he’s done enough novenas or given enough alms to please God. Thus, what I am suggesting is that once one understands the Catholic view, though one may still wind up disagreeing with it, one should not dismiss it on irrelevant grounds, such as its apparent inability to provide absolute subjective assurance of heaven to its converts.
Note: Religious people focused on their “good works” will miss heaven.
Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.” Matthew 21:31-32.
Note: Are you doing the “work of God” by your sincere belief in Jesus Christ?

Page 112: Because the Early Church was committed to the deep mystery of Chalcedonian Christology – Jesus of Nazareth was both fully God and fully man – it say no need to divide faith and works, as if they were hostile foes. Thus, it say a Christian’s obedience, one’s “works,” as the exercise of faith by which the believer undergoes intrinsic transformation while in communion with God. For the Early Church, God became a human being so that human beings may become godly. After all, if works diminish faith’s significance because our cooperation apparently limits God’s sovereignty, then why believe that Jesus really took on human nature, for does not the imply that God was not sufficiently almighty enough to save us without acquiring a human nature?
Note: Jesus Christ became a human being to die for the sins of the world.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:8-10.
Note: Religious people focused on their “good works” will miss heaven.

Page 113: The key to understanding Catholic theology is to set aside the assumption that it is always a zero-sum game. Justification is about our being part of a communion of saints, the body of Christ, with whom we can receive and share the unearned and totally gratuitous wonders of God’s grace, through baptism, the Eucharist, confession, and all the sacraments. I do nothing without the initiation of the Holy Spirit. It is not my merit; it is his. And yet, there is a mystery here. I cooperate with this grace, but I contribute nothing to it. In my obedience, I am allowing the grace of God to transform me. And yet, it is wholly God’s doing. I am confident of my eternal fate, but confidence in that eternal fate is not the exclusive purpose of justification. For God not only wants you to get to heaven, he wants to get heaven into you. And he does so by grace that has the power to change nature.
Note: Among many Catholic heresies is their baptismal regeneration.
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 1 Corinthians 1:14-17.
Note: Preaching baptism will nullify the death of Jesus Christ for your sins.

Note: 113: The great debates that divided the Church during its first 500 years were over the Trinitarian nature of God, the two natures of Jesus Christ, and Pelagianism. During this time, the canon of the New Testament was being fixed. And yet, the Church delivered to its people, without controversy as to their gracious efficacy and status as legitimate Christian practices, the sacraments of confession and the Eurcharist, with the understanding that these practices imparted to the believer grace so that he or she may be made into the image of Christ. In the Eastern Church it is called deification (not because the believer could become a god, in the sense of acquiring the nature of the creator, but rather that the Christian life is a process of intrinsic change toward godliness that begins at Baptism and it totally the result of God’s grace).
Note: Intrinsic change in a Christian life begins at belief and before baptism.
Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. Acts 16:26-34.

Page 114: I found that the Church Fathers affirmed, very early on, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, infant baptism, penance and confession, an ordained priesthood, and an episcopal ecclesiology and apostolic succession (as well as other “Catholic” doctrines including prayers for the dead and purgatory).
Note: Holy Communion is spiritual as only bread and liquid is consumed.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
Note: The purpose of Holy Communion is to remember the death of Jesus Christ.

Page 114: But what was surprising to me is that one never finds in the Church Fathers’ claims that these “Catholic” doctrines – for example, purgatory, apostolic succession, Real Presence in the Eucharist, infant baptism, penance – are “unbiblical,” “heretical,” “apostate,” or “not Christian.” So, at worst, I thought, the Catholic doctrines were considered legitimate options early on in church history. And this by the men who were disciple by the Apostles and/or the Apostles’ disciples and/or their successors. At best, the Catholic doctrines part of the deposit of faith passed on to the successors of the Apostles and preserved by the teaching authority of the Catholic Church.
Note: Jesus Christ knew that many “birds” of heresy will be in Christendom.
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32.
Note: The largest “birds” of heresy will be found on the Catholic Church limb.

Page 115: And it was in those local churches that the practices of confession and penance, belief in and celebration of the Real Presence of the Eucharist, prayers for and to the dead, and the idea of an ordained priesthood under the leadership of bishops, the Apostles’ successors, took root, flourished, and developed throughout the Christian world.
Note: Error took root in the local churches early on during the New Testament era.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5.
Note: The churches of Asia all had errors. Revelation 1-3.

Pages 115-116: At this point, I thought, if I reject the Catholic Church, there is good reason for me to believe I am rejecting the Church that Christ himself established. That’s not a risk I was willing to take.
Note: The Church is a gathering of Christians not a corporation based in Rome.
Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11:25-26.
Note: Are you focused on following the errors of the Catholic Church?