God’s Simple Plan for Salvation

A Question of Faith

One day I was watching television, and while changing channels I happened upon a local program that featured a preacher who said he had a special message for all the Catholics who were watching. This preacher, a man whose name I don’t even recall today, said that some teachings of the Catholic Church are contrary to the Bible itself. He declared that Catholics who followed the doctrines of the church were being misled and most likely had not received God’s Gift of Eternal Salvation.

Now, I wasn’t naive. I was well aware that this wasn’t new, that the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church had come under fire for centuries. It wasn’t only this random TV preacher dispensing ominous words of warning against the Catholic Church, there were plenty of other forces out there taking aim at Catholicism. My church had warned me that “Catholic bashing” had been increasing, particularly in light of the problems the church was facing due to the horrible misdeeds and abuses of some of its priests and others in leadership positions.

But for some reason I found this particular preacher’s message worth additional research. I decided to do what the Catholic Church had told me to do in such situations, which was to turn to those within my church who were deeply educated in the teachings of the catholicism for help. The next day I spoke to my parish priest about what I’d heard. I asked:

“Father, why did this TV preacher say that the teachings of the catholic church sometimes differ from what is in the Bible?”

The priest was fairly terse in his reply. While he didn’t spend a lot of time making any specific references to Scriptures or to any particular teachings of the Catholic Church, he told me that I should ignore what the TV preacher had said. My priest, a former seminary instructor who trained men coming into the Catholic priesthood, told me that it was obvious to him that the TV preacher didn’t actually understand the Catholic Church, that any Bible passages the preacher may have quoted were probably taken out of context, and that I should trust the Catholic Church and only the Catholic Church for everything I needed to know about Salvation. He assured me that I was a Christian and a Catholic and I should trust in what the Catholic Church taught me, and not to question it. The Catholic Church and its leaders, he told me, are the ultimate interpreter and arbiter of the Holy Scripture and that only the Catholic Church could dispense definitive knowledge about the Word of God.

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