Skip to comments.Pope says uniting Christianity requires conversion
Posted on 01/18/2012 3:19:15 PM PST by NYer
.- Pope Benedict XVI said today that achieving Christian unity requires more than cordiality and cooperation and that it must be accompanied by interior conversion.
Faith in Christ and interior conversion, both individual and communal, must constantly accompany our prayer for Christian unity, said the Pope to over 8,000 pilgrims gathered in the Vaticans Paul VI Audience Hall on Jan. 18.
The Popes comments mark the start of the 2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that runs until Jan. 25. It will be observed by over 300 Christian churches and ecclesial communities around the globe.
The Pope asked for the Lord in a particular way to strengthen the faith of all Christians, to change our hearts and to enable us to bear united witness to the Gospel.
In this way, he said, they will contribute to the new evangelization and respond ever more fully to the spiritual hunger of the men and women of our time.
The Pope explained that the concept of a week of prayer for Christian unity was initiated in 1908 by Paul Wattson, an Episcopalian minister from Maryland. One year later, he became a Catholic and was subsequently ordained to the priesthood.
Pope Benedict recalled how the initiative was supported by his predecessors Pope St. Pius X and Pope Benedict XV. It was then developed and perfected in the 1930s by the Frenchman Abbé Paul Couturier, who promoted prayer for the unity of the Church as Christ wishes and according to the means he wills.
The mandate for the week of prayer, the Pope underscored, comes from the wish of Christ himself at the Last Supper that they may all be one. He observed that this mission was given a particular impetus by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) but added that the unity we strive for cannot result merely from our own efforts. Rather, it is a gift we receive and must constantly invoke from on high.
The theme for 2012 Week of Prayer All shall be changed by the victory of Jesus Christ our Lord was crafted by the Polish Ecumenical Council. Pope Benedict said it reflects their own experience as a nation, which stayed faithful to Christ in the midst of trials and upheavals, including years of occupation by the Nazis and later the Communists.
The Pope tied the victory the Polish people experienced over their oppressors to overcoming the disunity that marks Christians.
He said that the unity for which we pray requires inner conversion, both shared and individual, and it cannot be limited to cordiality and cooperation. Instead, Christians must accept all the elements of unity which God has conserved for us.
Ecumenism, the Pope stated, is not an optional extra for Catholics but is the responsibility of the entire Church and of all the baptized. Christians, he said, must make praying for unity an integral part of their prayer life, especially when people from different traditions come together to work for victory in Christ over sin, evil, injustice and the violation of human dignity.
Pope Benedict then touched on the lack of unity in the Christian community, which he said hinders the effective announcement of the Gospel and endangers our credibility. Evangelizing formerly Christian countries and spreading the Gospel to new places will be more fruitful if all Christians together announce the truth of the Gospel and Jesus Christ, and give a joint response to the spiritual thirst of our times, he explained.
The Pope concluded his comments with the hope that this years Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will lead to increased shared witness, solidarity and collaboration among Christians, in expectation of that glorious day when together we will all be able to celebrate the Sacraments and profess the faith transmitted by the Apostles.
The general audience finished with Pope Benedict addressing pilgrims in various languages, including greeting a group of men and women from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, before leading the crowd in the Our Father and imparting his apostolic blessing.
>> “The Gospel isnt something, it is SOMEONE.” <<
In a sense, perhaps. It is that ‘someone’ crucified and arisin, seated at the right hand of the Father. That makes his blood shed on the cross our salvation, and that is the gospel.
It seems you like setting up straw men.
You need FAITH WITH WORKS otherwise you don’t have faith or salvation. It’s that simple.
Besides St. Paul’s teachings about works are referring to the keeping of the Levitical laws, all 613 of them in fact.
(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
How dare you contradict scripture.
Only an uneducated person thinks the Catholic Church teaches that salvation is by works apart from grace.
>> “We ask for Prayers only.” <<
If you had Faith you would pray to the Father yourself, and not trouble the dead ‘saint’ that can’t help you anyway:
“for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
If you had Faith you would pray to the Father yourself, and not trouble the dead saint that cant help you anyway:
>>If you had faith you wouldn’t trouble asking other people to pray for you, period.
You offer your own words of baseless opinon in place of the word of God that I just quoted to you.
It totally refutes your statements.
James was not written by James. It was written two centuries later, thus is of no value in a Biblical discussion.
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
2 Peter 3:15-16
So you reject the Book of James as scripture?
If you do. Then by what authority do decide it isn’t scripture?
Why not do the same thing with Revelation, considering that many early Christians doubted it was inspired?
It totally refutes your statements.
>>You have done no such thing. You completely ignored my quotes from St. Paul that say the same thing as St. James’s epistle.
>>If anything is baseless, it is the belief that salvation is by faith alone without deeds to confirm your faith.
It looks like you just like creating your own religion from scratch.
And I’m beginning to wonder if you are actually just an atheist who likes trouble.
Your argument is like something out of the following atheist website.
V. GOOD WORKS AND PRAYER 1. We believe that faith in Jesus Christ always leads a believer to produce works that are pleasing to God. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). As a branch in Christ the vine, a Christian produces good fruit (John 15:5).
2. We believe that works pleasing to God are works of love, for “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). Faith, however, does not set up its own standards to determine what is loving (Matthew 15:9). True faith delights to do only what agrees with God’s holy will. That will of God is revealed in the Bible, particularly in the Ten Commandments as their content is repeated in the New Testament. In wrestling with current moral problems, the Christian will therefore seek answers from God’s law.
3. We believe, for example, that the Fifth Commandment teaches that all human life is a gift from God. This commandment speaks against abortion, suicide, and euthanasia (”mercy killing”).
4. We believe that the Sixth Commandment regulates marriage and the family. God instituted marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-6). It is the only proper context for sexual intimacy and the procreation of children. A marriage can be ended without sin only when God ends the marriage through the death of one of the spouses. Nevertheless, a Christian may obtain a divorce if his or her spouse has broken the marriage through adultery (Matthew 19:9) or malicious desertion (1 Corinthians 7:15). The Sixth Commandment forbids all sexual intimacy apart from marriage, including homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9,10).
5. We believe that individuals are free to make their own decisions concerning matters that are neither forbidden nor commanded by God’s Word (adiaphora). People must be careful, however, that their use of this freedom does not cause others to sin.
6. We believe that good works, which are fruits of faith, must be distinguished from works of civic righteousness performed by unbelievers. Although unbelievers may do much that appears to be good and upright, these works are not good in God’s sight, for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). While we recognize the value of such works for human society, we know that unbelievers cannot do their duty to God through works of civic righteousness.
7. We believe that in this world even the best works of Christians are tainted with sin. A sinful nature still afflicts every Christian. Therefore Christians often fail to do the good they want to do but keep on doing the evil they do not want to do (Romans 7:18-21). They must confess that all their righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Because of Christ’s redemption, however, these imperfect efforts of Christians are considered holy and acceptable by their heavenly Father.
8. We believe that the Holy Spirit enables every believer to produce good works as fruits of faith (Galatians 5:22-25). The Holy Spirit gives every believer a new nature, or “new man,” that cooperates with the Holy Spirit in doing good works. The Holy Spirit uses the gospel to motivate believers to do good works.
9. The Holy Spirit also equips the church with all the spiritual gifts it needs for its well-being (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). During the beginning of the New Testament era, special charismatic gifts were given to the church, such as signs, miracles, and speaking in tongues. These gifts were connected with the ministry of the apostles (2 Corinthians 12:12). There is no evidence in Scripture that we today should expect the continuation of such charismatic gifts.
10. We believe that a life of prayer is a fruit of faith. Confidently, through faith in their Savior, Christians address their heavenly Father with petitions and praise. They present their needs and the needs of others, and they give thanks (1 Timothy 2:1). Such prayers are a delight to God, and he grants their requests according to his wisdom (Matthew 7:7,8; 1 John 5:14).
12. We reject every attempt to abolish the unchanging moral law of God as revealed in the Bible as the absolute standard of what is right and wrong.
13. We reject the view that people may decide for themselves what is right and wrong apart from God’s Word. We reject any misuse of the term love to condone behavior contrary to God’s Word. We recognize these arguments as schemes of Satan to obscure the knowledge of God’s holy will and to undermine the consciousness of sin.
14. We reject any view that considers the act of praying a means of grace. Although God certainly gives good gifts to believers in answer to their prayers, he conveys his forgiving grace and strengthens faith only through the Word and sacraments. Furthermore, we reject any view that looks upon prayer as beneficial only because it helps the one who prays feel better.
15. We reject the view that all prayers are acceptable to God, and we hold that the prayers of all who do not have faith in Christ are vain babbling addressed to false gods (Matthew 6:7).
This is what Scripture teaches about good works and prayer. This we believe, teach, and confess.
"It is sometimes argued from Eph. 3:5 that Paul was only one of many "apostles and prophets" to whom the mystery was revealed. The words "by the Spirit" are significant in this connection. Paul first revealed the truth of the mystery "by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:12, Eph. 3:3, etc). He then "went up by revelation" and communicated it to the leaders at Jerusalem (Gal. 2:2) and they "saw" and "perceived" it and gave Paul and Barnabas, his companion, "the right hands of fellowship" (Gal. 2:7,9). It was "by the SPIRIT" of course, that they "saw" and "perceived" these truths, but not until Paul had communicated them to them."
Now on to Prophecy v. Mystery:
Prophecy mainly concerns NATIONS as such (Isa. 2:4, Ezek. 37:21,22). The Mystery concerns INDIVIDUALS (Rom. 10:12,13, 2 Cor. 5:14-17).
Prophecy concerns blessings, both material and spiritual, ON EARTH (Isa. 2:3,4, 11:1-9). The Mystery concerns "all spiritual blessings IN THE HEAVENLIES" (Eph. 1:20-23, Col. 3:1-3.
Prophecy concerns Christ's COMING TO THE EARTH (Isa. 59:20, Zech. 14:4). The mystery explains Christ's present ABSENCE FROM THE EARTH ( Eph. 1:20-23, Col. 3:1-3).
In Prophecy salvation by grace through faith ALONE is not contemplated. Salvation by grace through faith ALONE lies at the very heart of the mystery (Rom. 3:21-26, 3:5, Eph. 2:8,9).
The proclamation of the prophetic program was committed particularly to the twelve (Matt. 10:5-7, Acts 1:6-8, 3:19-26). The proclamation of the mystery was commited particularly to Paul (Eph. 3:1-3,8,9, Col. 1:24-27).
The prophpetic program revealed through MANY of God's servants (Luke 1:70, 2 Pet. 1:21). The mystery revealed through ONE man: Paul.(Gal. 1:11,12, 2:2,7,9, Eph. 3:23).
Old Testament writers frequently did NOT UNDERSTAND THE PROPHECIES MADE KNOWN THROUGH THEM (Dan. 12:8-10, 1 Pet. 1:10-12. Paul both understood and longed that others might understand the mystery revealed through him. (Eph. 1:15-23, 3:14-21, Col. 1:9-10, 2:1-3). - C.R. Stam, "Things That Differ", Prophecy and the Mystery, chapter 2, pp.65,66.
The Gospel of the Grace of God:
Committed to Paul (1 Cor. 15:1-4. It contains the gospel of the grace of God, but it also contains more than that. (Rom. 16:25,26, 1 Cor. 15:1, 3,4, Eph. 3:2,3,5,6,9.
It tells us for the first time that Christ died FOR OUR SINS, was buried, and rose again the third day. Read Peter's great first sermon on the day of Pentecost. He preaches that Christ had died, was buried, and rose from the dead the third day to sit on his throne. But NOWHERE does Peter say that Christ's death was FOR OUR SINS. THAT'S THE GOSPEL OF YOUR SALVATION. Nor did Peter preach that "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8,9). THAT'S the GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD. That Christ died FOR OUR SINS, was buried, and rose again the third day. AND that if we believe He died for OUR SINS, we are saved, by GRACE through faith, not of works, but by the GRACE OF GOD, through the finished work of Christ.
Peter did not preach this Gospel on the day of Pentecost, nor did he KNOW it until HE HEARD IT from Paul (Gal. Chapter 2). They were NOT preaching the same gospel. Read Acts 1 and 2 and find ONE passage that shows Peter sharing the GOOD NEWS that Christ died for OUR SINS. He was preaching the BAD NEWS that the Jews had killed their Messiah, but that he was risen and sitting on his throne, and COMING BACK AFTER THE WRATH OF GOD IS POURED OUT. Hardly a sermon of reconciliation. But if you believe they preached the same gospel, please show me in Scripture where they were. Just as I have shown you in Scripture where they were NOT.
You inexplicably left out the Non-Ephesenes (the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, and the Caldaean Syrian Church of India). They also have apostolic succession. Of course, they're Nestorians, but since you accept the Monophysites, you certainly can't object to Nestorianism either. This was surely an oversight on your part.
If the Reformation is now the sole cause of mankind's present ills, and general separation from the Holiness of the Lord, then much share of the blame for it occurring must be laid at the feet of those churchmen of the Middle Ages whose own intransigence, sin, and heretical behavior in opposition to the Lord and His Ways, caused it to occur.
If the spread of atheism is the chief problem, then how can the re-institution of near unbridled power that was known by the European church of the Middle Ages be the cure?
The world has been there, and done that, and will have no more of it.
If the Reformation is now the sole cause of mankind’s present ills, and general separation from the Holiness of the Lord, then much share of the blame for it occurring must be laid at the feet of those churchmen of the Middle Ages whose own intransigence, sin, and heretical behavior in opposition to the Lord and His Ways, caused it to occur.
If the spread of atheism is the chief problem, then how can the re-institution of near unbridled power that was known by the European church of the Middle Ages be the cure?
>>Faith can never be imposed by an external force, ever. You can’t put the genie back into the bottle.
Christological agreements exist with both the Anti-Chalcedonians and with the Assyrian Church of the East.
So I don’t know what you are jousting after.
AMEN, editor. It’s what He did that makes it the gospel of our salvation, and the gospel of the grace of God. He didn’t just die, was buried, and rose again the third day. He died FOR OUR SINS, was buried, and rose again the third day. THAT is what we must believe to be saved. Lazarus died, was buried and rose again. But he did not do it FOR OUR SINS. ONLY Christ could be our propitiation for sins. That it is by grace through faith in that finished work of Christ, and not of any works that we could ever hope to do, that it is the free gift of God is what makes it the gospel of the grace of God. It is both SOMEONE and SOMETHING. He did. FOR US. FREELY.
So I dont know what you are jousting after.
You mentioned every liturgical family except for them, so I thought you found them uniquely objectionable.
Apparently you blur Monophysitism and Nestorianism as easily as you do Catholicism and Orthodoxy.
According to you. But perhaps you're not looking at all of scripture.
For by Grace are ye saved through Faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of god, not of works lest any man should boast.
"Faith Alone" is not here, nor anywhere else. Elsewhere we see scripture contradicting the doctrine of Sola Fide. We can't pick one verse and ignore the others.
If it were to be alone an underpinning, then perhaps. But it is not alone. Neither was it (reliance of canonical text foremost) demonstrated to not have been employed by some of the early patristric fathers. By which I mean, they themselves used the Gospels and the writings of Paul, along with Old Covenant texts taken together as work of record, to put down various heresies, imaginative writings, and guidance for confessions of faith which could put to rest controversy as it arose.
The collection of statements themselves were not the entire underpinning of the reformer's thoughts, expressed fears or worry at some point by Luther notwithstanding, for much of the earlier tradition was brought along in more muted fashion, as we are here on the pages of FR reminded of from time to time.
They kept the Apostle's creed, or so I'm presently persuaded to believe.
At some other juncture, perhaps I should divulge once again some of mine own testimony, how I came to be baptized by both water and the Spirit, some of mine experiences after that --- and notably, how this all occurred outside of the narrow confines of Catholicism, or any much knowledge of my own concerning what differences there are between it, and what came to be passed down through "reform" minded religious schools of thought.
These things came about not because I myself was devout or worthy, but through the grace of God.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. Other than the being raised up on the last day part, the previous portions I have experienced despite possible errors on the part of the reformers, and far outside any formally present day "Catholic" setting.
Consider if you will, how you yourself may view things to be, if such had occurred with yourself in the same manner. What might the ramifications of that be, in light of various (as critics would term them) Romish claims?
For sure, it can seem to us many ways, the way of total surrender, the way of preordained and destined, the way of guidance, or an unseen hand, or God forcing us to choose, to decide what we truly follow. Many ways, many people: God comes to us where we are.
But while this makes for good and valuable testimony, and while it is useful in teaching, it does not say how it must be for all, it doesn't make a theology or soteriology (unless Qué será, será is a plan of salvation.)
And yes, certainly the Church Fathers relied very heavily on scripture, still do. But in times of dueling verses capable of different meaning, they sought what was coherent and consistent of the faith taught by Christ to His Apostles.
And this is where the authority lies: in the Apostolic Church. If it lie in sola scriptura it lies with the individual's authority, which is where, IMHO, all the solas originated.
thanks very much for your courteous reply.
Galatians 3 1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vainif indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith 6 just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness?
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, In you shall all the nations be blessed. 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them. 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for The righteous shall live by faith. 12 But the law is not of faith, rather The one who does them shall live by them. 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for usfor it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, And to offsprings, referring to many, but referring to one, And to your offspring, who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
Thanks for your reply.
I’m going to assume you’ve seen most if not all the scripture that contradict Sola Fide, so I won’t bother you with them again.
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