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The Church & Salvation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 24, 2022 12:01 am

The Church & Salvation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 24, 2022 12:01 am

We cannot understand the Roman Catholic Church's teachings on salvation unless we also examine its doctrine of the church. Today, R.C. Sproul presents us with these views, underscoring the importance of the 16th-century Reformation.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind remember having a person tell me that they have been taught in their Catholic parochial school is a part of the matter. Of course we are teaching, but anyone who was a Protestant could not go to heaven that you must be within the Roman Catholic Church in order to go to heaven. I had my friends tell me that when it comes to spending eternity with God.

We don't want to have the wrong information.

What is required of us and who has the authority to tell us from the early church father has always been a debate over critical theological issues that the beta course can go ahead early in the 16th century, when Martin Luther challenged the Roman Catholic Church today. Dr. RC Sproul tackles one of the most important points of contention, then and now our topic in this session will be the church and salvation. Notice that I have not titled this lecture merely the doctrine of the church, nor have I titled it the doctrine of salvation, but were looking at a very narrow concept of Roman Catholic ecclesiology that is the relationship of the church to salvation so that were considering not only ecclesiology which is the doctrine of the church, but also so teleology six and so teleology is the doctrine of what salvation yes coming from the Greek solitaire which means Savior sites outside semi to say what I'm trying to get at is what is the relationship between the church as an institution and salvation as a reality. Roman Catholic theology the Roman Catholic institution is usually described as an institution.

Given to sacerdotal is coming from the Latin sacerdotal which is the Latin term for priest sacerdotal lesson is and is and in which salvation is mediated through the functions of the priesthood, namely the sacraments.

Notice that the great emphasis in reformed churches and even manifested in its architecture is in the preaching of the word where the center of attention in Protestant churches is the pulpit in the Roman Catholic tradition the center of attention is what the altar and the mass is seen as the heart of the liturgy, rather than the sermon which is usually a very short homily. That difference is a difference of course in emphasis.

It's a difference of degree and it has its roots in an entirely different approach to salvation and sacerdotal is has to do with the approach of salvation by means of the priestly functions of the sacraments which impart saving grace to people not if salvation is sacerdotal.

If redemption comes through the means of grace that are dispensed by the priest and controlled by the church.

Then the question automatically comes what happens to a person who is not a member of a sacerdotal communion is not a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

Right. That's the issue. Can a person outside of the Roman Catholic Church from the perspective of the Roman viewpoint can that person be saved. That question was a burning question in this country in the 40s and in the 50s, and indeed up to the new mentality manifested and expressed by Vatican II, partly because of the significance of a papal encyclical.

It was issued in 1943, which will look at in a moment, but I remember if I can illustrate the problem from personal experience in certain instances that took place in my own life. First thing I recall is growing up in a suburban community outside of Pittsburgh and that suburban community there were only two churches, a Protestant church in the Catholic Church. There were two elementary schools of public elementary school in the Roman Catholic elementary school and there was a very clearly defined spirit of division between those two institutions.

The division was manifested in the geographical establishment of the neighborhood. The Catholics lived on one side of the main highway.

The process lives on the other side of the main highway.

The Protestants all went to the Protestant church and to the public school. The Catholic children all went to the Catholic Church and the Catholic school, and there was virtually no interchange socially between the two groups and there was a severe element of distrust and suspicion between these two groups and we know that we were talking about the 1940s. Now were talking about a situation that has been greatly alleviated from earlier days stay at the turn-of-the-century and the problem with the Irish Catholic faced socially and politically in this country in the midst of different ethnic backgrounds. So there's a sense in which I can recall this spirit of suspicion. I remember when we went into 10th grade.

The Catholics at that point did not have their own high school so that we suddenly were thrown together and baseball teams in football teams, etc. now were composed of a mixture of Protestant and Catholic, and there was some beginnings of communication and friendships developing. I remember having a person tell me that they had been taught in their Catholic parochial school is a part of the matter. Of course of their teaching that anyone who was a Protestant could not go to heaven that you must be within the Roman Catholic Church in order to go to heaven. I had my friends tell me that this became more ex-essentially real to me as I got older and developed a very close friendship with a man who was Roman Catholic and at the time that I was entering into marriage with Buster. I course wanted this fellow who was my best friend to be my best man in my wedding, and at that time he asked special permission from the church to participate in my wedding and that permission was not granted it was refused on the grounds that it was considered been by the priest a serious sin to even attend a Protestant worship service to be present at all in any kind of ecclesiastical function within Protestantism self, my best friend was not even allowed to attend my wedding let alone participate in it. When he got married a little while later I was given permission by the Bishop of New York to participate in his wedding as a Protestant but I was not permitted to approach the altar for the time of the consummation of the vials, etc. in the marriage mass so we went through those struggles that were very real in the 40s and in the 50s and then when I went to seminary and have my first parish, which was a student parish.

I was a student minister in a small Hungarian refugee church in a depressed community and in that community. There were eight Catholic churches and one very tiny Protestant church and I lived next door to the church in a small man's situation and I remember I came there in the fall is the school term began and during the Halloween. Our home was became the favorite target of the children of the community because as I discovered from the children whom I interrogated afterwards that they were told by their priests, but the devil lived in my house and so our house was covered with mud. As a result of mud throwing tomatoes sin all kinds of garbage that was left on my lawn and it wasn't a question of this being done by children that I had known it been any contact with her total strangers had no knowledge of these people off, but it was a regular procedure during the hallowing. To bombard the bastion of Protestantism, which was the house of Satan not finally pointing out these illustrations to show that this kind of attitude which is really foreign to what the mood of our culture is the day is not something that passed out of the scene 150 years ago in my own lifetime.

I went through these experiences of finding a strong suspicious view of anything Protestant concerning the Roman institution Vatican II and its atmosphere. Of course this brought radical changes in the mentality to this kind of experience, but I want to see the theological and historical basis for these kinds of feelings and out historically. Cyprian in the early church developed a formula that has become very important and very significant in the Roman Catholic development of the relationship of the church to salvation. The classic phrase or formula given by Cyprian is the statement.

Perhaps you've heard it extra play CM Nola silos extra means. What outside of or apart from outside of the play CM what's the Lyceum. The church Nola men okay or no you heard of something as nonload replacing parts go not allow the media don't take any tricks I know silos salvation outside of the church knows salvation. That's the formula the so-called Cipriani formula developed in the sub apostolic age by Cyprian when the great Latin fathers and in this formula Cyprian defined the formula by way of an analogy that he made with Noah's Ark. He said that it is just as necessary for salvation to occur in the life of a person that they be concretely really and visibly within the membership of the Roman Catholic Church were to be say, as it was concretely really substantially necessary for people to begin the arc of Noah in order to be rescued from the flood. Somebody just couldn't have a disposition to be with Noah, but missed the boat and would be considered spiritually present that you would still be inundated by the torrential downpour that God sent the judge the world. You had to begin that are safely inside on the right side of the doors, not outside looking in, not even giving a friendly wave. You had to be there and this is the way Cyprian defined the necessity of one's membership within the Roman Catholic Church in order to secure salvation by this notion was modified to some degree by the great doctor of the church who in Roman Catholic tradition is considered the supreme theologian of the church in terms of developing Roman ecclesiology. What theologian is that not Aquinas.

Aquinas, of course, is considered the supreme theologian of the church.

Generally speaking, he's the Dr. Angelica's, but this is the one who is considered the supreme theologian with respect to ecclesiology. Augustine, St. Augustine. Ironically, the site whose writings awakened Luther to his understanding of justification by faith.

Luther being an Augustinian monk, but Augustin had a very strong view of the church and he more than any theologian of the first millennium developed and articulated a systematic doctrine of the church in his famous statement spin off repeated in Roman circles. He who does not have the church as his mother does not have God as his father. He who does not have the church as his mother does not have God as his father. It's Augustine perhaps more than anyone else who develop the attitude of looking at the church in terms of being holy mother Church, in whose bosom, one must safely abide in order to be redeemed. However, in the development of ecclesiology that we find in Augustine there are some very sophisticated notions that would counteract a crass Cyprian at view and the reason for this has its roots in another serious historical controversy growing out of the fourth century and that is the Donatist controversy Donatist controversy. How many of you are familiar with Donatism the Donatist controversy in any degree through the referral. Several of you are that Scripture was the Donatist controversy about basically priests or bishops that it given up the Bible to be burned when they could be involved in baptizing people all right.

It's the question of the legitimacy of either heretical baptism or, as you indicated the validity and the legitimacy of the last seats priests the notion of the laps he has its origins even earlier. Back in the days of persecution were those priests who were called upon to recant of their faith in Christ.

Church history gives us the triumphant record of the multitude of Christians of bishops of brace men like Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna who boldly profess their faith in Christ in the midst of the threat of death and persecution and who went to the lions in the Coliseum were to become the porches of Nero's Garden. These men of course have lived on in terms of their famous the martyrs of the church, but not everyone who was called upon to bear the witness of martyrdom acted so heroically there were those who broke under the pressure. Those who were priests. Those who were bishops who under the threat of persecution repudiated their faith in Christ by when the fire persecution blew over.

Then the question was what we do with those who have lapsed. Can they be restored. Is there liturgical function.

Their priestly activity.

Valid or invalid they had a wing in the Catholic Church. The Donatist wing who insisted on a strict Cyprian ache understanding of the church and who were in the sense Catholic Puritans. They maintained that the visible church is only the true church when its leaders are spiritually poor sacraments are not valid if a priest who gives that sacrament is heretical or if that priest is living in mortal sin. See the issue. If someone is a Lapsley if someone who is a heretic, or if a clergyman is living in mortal sin according to the Donatist then the sacraments that they administer are not efficacious. They are invalid made invalid by the corruption of the one who is doing the administration that was the Donatist view of what kinds of serious problems with that raise for people in the church and suppose the Donatists were right that an unbeliever or heretic has all of the liturgical things that he does invalidated by virtue of his corruption. If that were the case that the Donatists were right, what would that say about my marriage would be valid, loaded said about my Baptist when the bow was about my confirmation would be valid.

When Bob ordination when the ballot if the efficacy of the sacraments or of the rights of the church are dependent upon the purity of the administrator that was at this point that Augustine was awakened from his dogmatic slumbers and was forced to develop his total scheme of ecclesiology over against this pressing heresy of the Donatists, and in light of that, Augustine developed his doctrine the church indicating the four classic marks of the church and were not going to deal with all of them because of the press of thiamine retried the only with those that are relevant to the issue. One of the four marks of the church.

According to Augustine only Catholic apostolic fellow, one holy Catholic apostolic church, and in those definitions he gave great discussion to the concept of the unity of the church. The catholicity of the church the apps the list of the of the church and to the holiness of the church and it was the second item the holiness of the church that was the center of the Donatist controversy. Although catholicity was also involved.

The crucial point was the holiness and let me just give you a few ideas of what Augustine stated with respect to the holiness of the church.

Visible church.

He said that the church is holy because of its unity with Christ and because of the activity of the Holy Spirit within it. That is to say that Augustine was maintaining that the church is not something that is intrinsically holy independently holy but is holiness is a derived and independent and a contingent type of holiness dependent upon its relationship in mystical union with Christ, who is holy, and because of the work and activity of the Holy Spirit within it, but he was quick to point out that that doesn't mean that everybody within the church is holy, but they are in the place where the holiness of God is focused by means of the presence of Christ.

The sacraments presence of the Holy Spirit and the vocalization of grace substantially within the visible church, but there are tears along with the wheat tears who, though they participate in the presence of holiness remain more or less untouched by the goes on to say that the visible church has the means of grace by which holiness comes but that doesn't mean that everybody makes diligent use of those means and grace. And he maintained that the church will only be without spot or wrinkle in heaven, and to expect the church to be pure for its work to be valid is an exercise in futility in this world he saw in the Donatists a premature seeking to realize what was promised only in the eschaton in the future in the heavenly church, the earthly church is not without spot or wrinkle or blemish. Even in the best of churches. According to the Donatist.

The church had to be morally and spiritually perfect in order for to be true church only conclusion Augustine come to is that Ron is in a true church leader of the Donatist true churches there are any true church because there is no church in this world without spot or blemish. He also points out that discipline is to take place in the church, but the tears are not allowed to run wild and choke out the wheat, but one must not be involved in a radical process of eliminating the tears last in your zeal for purity you injure wheat at the same time I people not believe that the unholy man who was in the church still belongs to the church but is not in the inner court, and he talks about the church as being what he calls a corpus per mix them a mixture of true believers and false belief by not want to go any further into that right now for the purposes of time except the point out that you see in Augustine, the statement that was in the visible church. There is a mixture of the holy and the unholy.

Now he says the true church that is the company of the elect. The people of God. According to Augustine exists. These are his words substantially within the visible church, but not exclusively. There may be heretic's schismatics, who have enough grace left outside of the church still to be redeemed, so Augustine modifies the strong view of visible membership as an essential ingredient for salvation the true church. The invisible church.

We can use cross language here exists substantially within the Roman Catholic Church, but not exclusively so Augustine had at least a crack in the door for a provision for those who have the possibility of redemption were not visibly physically united with the Roman Catholic Church.

The lid brings to light why the Protestant Reformation was so important. Rather than agree that one had to be a member of a certain church to be saved.

The reformers relied solely on Scripture. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, as revealed in the word of God alone and for the glory of God alone. Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday. Timely web as we have heard this week.

The distinctions that brought about the 16th century Protestant Reformation are still in place.

We like to help you continue your own study of this topic by sending you a copy of Dr. Sproles book are we together in it he examines historical creeds and modern doctrinal statements to show that the Roman Catholic Church has not changed its original stance.

He does so in the clear yet humble way that he taught this series that there were featuring this week.

By the way, this series is part of our offer to in a digital format request. Both of these resources with your donation of any amount when you call us at 800-435-4343 if you prefer you can give your gift online at Renewing Your Mind toward one of our follicular national conferences. I have the privilege of interviewing an Italian pastor who receives this divide between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestants up close that Leonardo Dick Carico pastors a church within walking distance of the Vatican and I asking how people there respond when he shares the biblical view of salvation. You know traditional Catholicism is not able to and deliver assurance and present-day Catholicism is not able to give any sense of fulfillment and joy as so once people discover the gospel and there is the natural result is that the discovery of contentment and hope, joy, and the desire to tell others the layout that underlines wire study this week is so important before we go. Here's a preview of what will hear from Dr. Sproles tomorrow in Protestant theology. What is the instrumental cause by which a person accrues to himself appropriates to himself the merits of Christ. What is that instrument faith.

What is the instrumental cause of justification for the Roman church, Baptist. Please make plans to join us Friday for a lesson on the sacrament here on Renewing Your Mind

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