Simple Answers to Not So Tough Questions
In a recent email exchange with a self-proclaimed 'Independent Fundamental Baptist Evangelist', he posed six questions to me, apparently intending to corner a defenseless Catholic. Finding answers to such questions is not difficult if one knows where to look. Most Fundamentalist objections to Catholic teaching are commonly known and addressed by many competent Catholic Apologists. They can be found on the Internet and in various Catholic publications. Be certain your sources maintain fidelity to Catholic teaching. If you are not sure, look for a green rating on the Catholic Culture website. After answering his questions, our on-going dialogue ended abruptly. I am not so naive to think he immediately enrolled in RCIA, but perhaps he will come to see Catholic teaching as reasonable. Below are the six questions and my brief answers.
Is Mary the mother of God?
Yes, BUT not in the sense that she precedes God or is the source of God's divinity. She carried God-made-flesh in her womb and in that context, she is the Mother of God. To say otherwise aligns oneself with a 5th century heresy called Nestorianism which essentially claimed that Jesus was two distinct persons, one being God and the other Man. Jesus was ONE person with two natures. Since the mother bears the whole person and not just the nature, Mary was a God-bearer, the Mother of God. Luther and Calvin agreed.
Is Mary a co-reedemer? (sic)
God uses His creation to accomplish His purposes. Mary was chosen as the vessel in which God became flesh in order to bring about our salvation. Mary is not a savior, but she played a integral part in God's plan. When the term co-redeemer or co-redemptrix is used to describe her role, it in no way implies equality with Christ any more than a co-pilot is the same as a pilot. Over many centuries of study, the Church has come to a deeper appreciation for the significance of Mary's role. To the best of my knowledge, the Church has never officially applied the term "co-redeemer" to Mary.
How does one get saved?
Our salvation is a free gift offered to us from God. The Catholic Church teaches exactly what the apostles taught and what the Bible teaches. We are saved by grace alone, but not by faith alone. (James 2:24) Jesus said that we must also obey His commandments. (Matt 7:21-23, 19:16-21, Luke 6:46) Our faith in Christ places us in a special relationship with God that combined with our obedience and love will be rewarded with eternal life. (Rom 2:7)
Does taking communion take away sins?
From the Catechism as declared by the Council of Trent in 1551, (#1394) "As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life, and this living charity wipes away venial sins."
(#1395) "The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins -- that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church."
(See also 1 Corr 11:27-29)
Does baptism save?
Baptism now saves you. (1 Pet 3:21)
Has there ever been a time when you personally asked Jesus Christ to save you?