The concerned Catholic is in black
Richard is in blue.
Richard's comments are in red.
I have met this sincere Catholic child of God and thought you might find this dialogue of interest.
Richard, I caught some parts of your recent program: primarily the beginning, but had to turn it off after you started to reference some strange, psuedo-Christian text. I later came back and heard the end when I think you were defending a perceived preponderance of evidence from various sources in favor of universal salvation. Sorry that I haven't heard all your arguments, but I still ask if,
1) I have the correct impression about your claim, and if so,
2) you have read Christ simply and clearly, as well as
3) the Church Fathers, and
4) have applied basic logic and reason. Again, I apologize for not having watched your whole show, when you might have answered all these questions already, but I believe you still seek truth honestly, as I do, and will gladly participate in intelligent conversation about such an eternally important subject.
Thank you for responding - others just attack. This show spoke of the 4 "basic" different views of salvation throughout history. My site -http://richardwaynegarganta.com/ has a COMPLETE 3 part course on my views regarding this after EXHAUSTIVE research. Curious thing that during the rosary, I hear people repeatedly pray for universal salvation. It is during the statement, "save us from the fires of hell." This is a very complex issue requiring study and teachability. I would love to discuss it with you whenever you like. But few take the time to read the research I have put forth and usually only wish to discuss from their preconceived ideas rather than what my research has shown. Traditions of men die hard. The reality, which cannot be denied by any honest researcher is this - while universal salvation was never accepted by all, the majority of the early church believed it. I do NOT teach that people can sin their way into heaven and there is no judgment of God. Nor do I teach sin can enter heaven. Neither do I teach you can do "whatever you damn well please." It really boils down to how successful you believe God is and how effective you believe the work of Christ is. Satan was able to infect all creation by default. It is a most curious thing when the Government admitted recently that, given the knowledge they now have, they can win anyone over to their position without the use of torture. Not one Christian raised an eyebrow for this ability of man. But if you say God can do the same, all hell breaks loose. The sad reality is most of Christianity believes that man and satan ARE more powerful and effective than God. My point for the show was this - this "all saved" view has such a strong historical basis, and history shows that the "earliest" church did NOT consider the view heretical, that today it should be considered a "non-issue" doctrinal difference. I think the word heresy is overused. The proverbial church has grown considerably the last several decades and many differences of doctrine are no longer considered that important. I believe this doctrinal difference should be put into that "non-important" category. Few and far between are those that really study opposing views OBJECTIVELY. Try doing so with my course and I think you will agree that, given all the facts, this view should NOT be considered heretical even if one chooses not to accept it.
Richard, I reviewed many of the references you used to defend your belief in universal salvation. My difficulties begin with your translations. I looked at my versions of the same scripture verses, and found many that were not exactly the same, especially in meaning, to your translations. I use the Douay-Reims for accuracy, and the New American as a supplemental backup. Meanwhile I have a Latin Clementine version of the vulgate, which is actually the only version of the Sacred Scriptures that the Church guarantees is without error. This Latin vulgate is my absolute rule for accuracy, and your translations are even further away from this version. This is a problem in itself.
I appreciate the dialogue and your views. I would be curious to know how well you get into original meaning and language. If you are just comparing words and see different words, that is not the same thing. For instance, one cannot dispute that the word "things" is not in the original texts. Part one of the course starts there. Note: the word “things” is RARELY in the original Greek yet we have MANY verses where translators put it in. To see how this affects the doctrine of Salvation - see part one of the course mentioned above.
The idea that God will at some point, and forever afterward, give to those who hated Him, and spent their lives fighting Him and destroying His works, the same eternal and unimaginable reward as those who sacrificed pleasure to serve Him humbly and suffer and die for love of Him, is contrary to the simplest concept of justice and profoundly absurd. Considering that eternity is forever, a thousand years of spiritual punishment or separation from Him, when it comes to its end, will still be virtually nothing compared to the eternal thereafter. Note: Observe the works based focus and the elevation of man’s love of God. This is all too common in ALL of Christianity. Protestants will brag that THEY turned THEIR will, THEIR heart and THEIR life over to God. Many even sing worship songs to THEIR love such as, “Oh how I love Jesus” and “Oh how I love Him.” But the Bible emphatically teaches that man CANNOT understand the things of God and CANNOT come to God UNLESS God “draws” them. The Greek word ‘draw’ means to CATCH AS IN A NET. “Draw” was a fishing term. Man can respond to God because God, by his Grace, makes it possible. All this is covered in part one of the course mentioned above. Also note this sincere person seems to have a very harsh, judgmental view of the majority of the world’s population. One wonders if he is aware that millions die every year throughout history without even a remote chance of hearing the Gospel in any meaningful way.
You deserve salvation? You "earned it?" Here is the age old Lutheran controversy again. I have heard many Catholics talk of "grace" but when you really listen to them - they are more about works than grace. Both are essential - but grace is what makes works possible, not the other way around. This works and ‘man’s will’ based theology is what I call the teaching of the sovereignty of man's will over God's. First I DO NOT teach that people don't repent and don't accept the Christ - I teach that as the Bible says, "Every tongue shall confess and every knee shall BOW - Greek for voluntary worship. For people to counter what I teach, they ALWAYS have to make assumptions or inject their ideas about what I teach. My documents make clear that ALL sin is dealt with, no one gets away with anything. God is just. The difference is you teach most will not repent and I teach that all will at some point. You believe God can not win everyone over, I teach that he knows how to fix everything and everyone. Catholics routinely teach that one can live a life of sin and repent on their death bed and, despite a life of wantonness, be accepted into eternal life. So why your outrage regarding what is "contrary to the simplest concept of justice?" Catholics rush to get a priest to insure the eternal salvation of the dying REGARDLESS of how they lived their life. How is that different?
By interpreting the scriptures and fathers on you own, without Christ's originally established authority of the Catholic Church above you, you become just another sect. The Sacred Scriptures, and the fathers, too, can be and have been wildly misinterpreted, sometimes with good intentions, by those who are reading them from a necessarily subjective and limited point of view. You have no guarantee that you are not wrong, and yet you become your own magisterium.
God gave me a brain to use. I have researched and these are my conclusions. I will change tomorrow if someone can show me that I am scripturally inaccurate - but I will not change my views to blindly accept what others say is "the truth." Note: with all due respect to Catholics they will argue scripture until a certain point and, when it suits their argument, do a 360 degree turnaround saying, “Who says it has to be in the Bible?” Catholics essentially teach that everything that Rome has decided or will decide is essentially an addendum to scripture. I find it most curious that you didn't respond to the fact you have no trouble accepting that Governments can win everyone over as in the last email - but God can't. I also find it curious that you ignored the fact universal salvation is ROUTINELY prayed for in the rosary. Does God have you pray for what you know will not happen?
In spite of the fathers who were blessed with many important insights, you will find no defined dogma coming from the magisterium of the Catholic Church that teaches that all men will be saved. That magisterium is the only absolute and sure authority that you or I or anyone has to rely on for divine and salvific truth. The Church properly teaches identically to Christ Himself, when He spoke of those on His left being told "depart from me", without any implication that he would recall them at some time in the future.
It is most curious that there were 3 words around in Christ's time that referred to eternal punishment and burning yet Christ never used them. He always referred to a temporary place called Gehenna, incorrectly translated as ‘hell’. There is a garden there now and I understand a shopping plaza is planned. I won't even begin to address the statements of Christ you refer to that had to do with the coming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. So many of those verses are routinely taken out of context.
Refer to the Athanasian Creed, and ex cathedra statements, infallibly pronounced by the Church, to be believed by all. These include, but are in no way limited to, Pope Innocent III, the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215; Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull, Unam Sanctam, 1302; and Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441. When the reality of an eternal heaven and an eternal hell is believed in good faith, according to the understanding of the Catholic Church, Whose being is informed by the Holy Spirit, then the verses of Scripture and of the fathers can be readily understood in their true meaning. Note the thinking - believe and accept the doctrine of heaven and eternal burning first, THEN look at scripture with that doctrinal lens. This is, unfortunately, the way most Christians get their doctrine. The teaching of universal salvation is harmful, and even deadly to the immediate and eternal spiritual life of nonbelievers, as well as those who have a desire to adhere to Christ and His truths. The destinies of souls, your own included, hang in the balance. I refer to you the same words of Our Lord that I remind myself of regularly; "Woe to those who would lead one of My little ones astray." Neither you nor I should take our words lightly, as if we can teach anything at all and still end up with the same happy reward. Note: I would remind this sincere debater of the story of the Prodigal Son in reference to the brother that was jealous because his wayward, but repentant brother was getting more of a reward than he was. If you did find out that everyone was saved at some point, why wouldn’t you be glad? Because the doctrine of eternal burning corrupts your soul and your whole perception of God. If God can burn people alive forever in real tormenting flames, then by golly, someone deserves it and get it they should. That is exactly what many, if not most, Christians believe. The smoke of the burning masses will ascend into heaven for all to smell as they shout for joy.
But I teach that EVERYONE can't escape the acceptance of the Christ. I teach the reality of God's judgment for all sin. Judgment CAN be corrective. People always assume it to be condemning. Again, you are assuming something not in fact regarding what I teach. In essence you teach this, "God loves you so much that he gave his only Son - and if you don't love him back he will burn you forever in torment and flames." You teach that the smoke of burning relatives and friends will ascend forever into heaven for the saved to smell. In short, you can not get out of a fear based religious mind set. I could show you MANY quotes of the early fathers where they stated hell was taught "to help discipline the masses." I teach that NO MAN'S will can override God's and God wants ALL men saved. I repeat, it really boils down to how successful you think God and His Christ are. You teach satan is more effective and, in the end, gets more people than God and his Christ. I teach otherwise. I believe God and his Christ can save all creation and every man will at some point accept Christ to the glory of God the Father - JUST LIKE YOU PRAY FOR DURING THE ROSARY.
From the Catholic church's own doctrine: Catholics do not believe that Protestants who are baptized, who lead a good life, love God and their neighbor, and are blamelessly ignorant of the just claims of the Catholic Religion to be the one true Religion (which is called being in good faith), are excluded from Heaven, provided they believe that there is one God in three Divine Persons; *that God will duly reward the good and punish the wicked; that Jesus Christ is the Son of God made man, who redeemed us, and in whom we must trust for our salvation; and provided they thoroughly repent of having ever, by their sins, offended God. Catholics hold that Protestants who have these dispositions, and who have no suspicion of their religion being false, and no means to discover, or fail in their honest endeavors to discover, the true Religion, and who are so disposed in their heart that they would at any cost embrace the Roman Catholic Religion if they knew it to be the true one, are Catholics in spirit and in some sense within the Catholic Church, without themselves knowing it. She holds that these Christians belong to, and are united to the "soul," as it is called, of the Catholic Church, although they are not united to the visible body of the Church by external communion with her, and by the outward profession of her faith.
I would clearly fall under this category shown underlined above, but what I have found is that even though this is what Rome teaches - most Catholics DON'T believe it and are usually quite judgmental when people don’t believe them blindly. I would accept Catholic theology WHOLEHEARTEDLY if I can find someone that can properly address my questions. So far, this has not happened. I am told that I should not question and should accept blindly what is being said or "you can never understand it because it is a mystery." Some talks with priests have resulted in them admitting they agreed with me, others have said things like, "I don't necessarily agree with the Catholic church but I concede and teach what I am told." I understand the beautiful IDEOLOGY of apostolic succession, but I believe it was much more fluid given the fact there were some seriously bad periods of Catholic history. I could have communion with a Catholic WITH NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER. Despite the fact Catholics teach one can be saved, accepted by Christ and not be Catholic, yet they still teach one can not "commune" with someone Christ has already accepted. In short, they are second guessing Christ himself and NO ONE has ever been able to give me an adequate explanation for this without doing a theological disco dance around the issue. The teaching is clear - Christ has accepted you but we have not. And yes, I can just hear the dance of "we accept but don't want you to partake of condemnation etc." The reality is Catholics teach that all Christians are NOT the same and this has NEVER made sense to me.
Regarding the praying of the rosary, when I am with 4 or 5 other people in a room praying the rosary, particularly the Hail Mary, I am not asking Mary to pray for all humans in the world, past, present and to come, when I say, "pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." I am praying for those of us together in that room. If I am alone, I am praying that prayer for me, and for those whom I love, or perhaps members of Christ's Church who acknowledge our sinfulness. This was and remains the attitude that I've always held when praying the Hail Mary. [Note: you will soon see that the Catechism teaches differently.] I have never been told that I should be asking The Blessed Virgin to plead with God to eventually bring all human beings to eternal happiness with Him, regardless of their faith or lack thereof, or their behavior good or evil, their good or bad will, or their being in a state of grace or not at death. Likewise, I do not intend to ask her to pray to God for the universal salvation of all mankind, particularly those already condemned, but rather to continue as I do now.
In another prayer in the rosary, spoken after each decade, even though I ask Jesus, to "forgive us our sins, to save us from the fires of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven", I do not ask Him to BRING all souls to Heaven, but to lead them, which He is always doing anyway. [Why anyone would feel the need to make this distinction is, in my view, very sad.]
You will find some very interesting things on this site:
Catholics and Universalism
It indicates that there are many in the Catholic camp that believe or have believed in universal salvation. Of course, I realize this does not mean this is the official stand of Catholicism. Now concerning the rosary, the prayer I was referring to is this:
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy [your] mercy. Amen.
Clearly this is referring to the "heathens" that you speak of. Additionally, the Catechism teaches:
1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost : ‘Lord, let me never be parted from you.' If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God ‘desires all men to be saved' (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him ‘all things are possible' (Mt 19:26).
And in 1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere ‘to the end' and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for ‘all men to be saved.'
I can say it a hundred times and you don't hear it. I do not say, as you put it, "bring all human beings to eternal happiness with Him, regardless of their faith or lack thereof, or their behavior good or evil, their good or bad will, or their being in a state of grace or not at death. " I have REPEATEDLY said that men must and will REPENT and ACCEPT THE CHRIST TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER. I also repeatedly speak of God's purifying judgments. Now, you have a mind block to this truth - the question is why? You must keep ignoring what I am saying, restate it, and then argue from that view. Why?
It also appears on this issue that your stand is not in full compliance with Catholic teaching as proved by your own Catechism. They tell you to pray for ALL regardless of your opinion on the condition of their soul. In fact you are told to pray for those that need it most - clearly the most resistant.
The scripture is clear - we are to BELIEVE WHAT WE PRAY FOR. The Catholic church teaches you to pray for the salvation of all, but to not believe it is really going to happen. In short, this is contradictory theology. In reality, the Catholic church says to, "pray for what you know will not happen." The Catholic church also teaches it is God's will that man be saved, as proven above, but teaches that God can't accomplish His will. The Catholic church teaches that man's will is sovereign. This is also contradictory theology and elevates the will of man over the will of God. It is questions like these that I can never get answered.
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