Over at the ever-excellent ‘Twisted Crown of Thorns’ there is an excellent quiz on basic Christian doctrine. Apart from the occasional Protestant misunderstanding of what the Catholic Church teaches, it is an excellent refresher, not least for Bosco, because the answers explain very plainly why the incorrect belief (or heresy) is so damaging.
The one which Michael himself says is a trick question is this one:
7. The only way we can be saved is by the perfect conformity to the law of God.
It is the only one where he and I disagreed (question 12, which is where he misunderstand Catholic teaching, we agreed on, as I think orthodox Catholics would agree). Michael wrote:
God is infinitely holy, and He expects absolute conformity to His righteous laws. Therefore, no one will be admitted into His presence unless he or she is absolutely perfect and obedient. Unfortunately, as Paul states in Romans 3, “there is no one righteous, not even one,” therefore no one will be admitted into heaven based upon his own obedience. But the Scriptures declare that Christ has not only died for the sins of His people, He has also lived out the requirements of the law in their place. In Christ, we are obedient, holy, and blameless. Therefore, we are saved by works, but not by our own. We are saved by the work of Christ in our place because of His graciousness (Mt 5:17-18; Jn 17:19; Rom 1:17, 5:19, 10:3-4; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21; Php 3:8-9).
Put that way, of course I agree, as I think most of us would – and it showed the importance of wording.
Read straight, I saw it as saying that conformity to the law saved, and as I know this is not what Michael believes, was surprised to see he had marked it as ‘true’, but once one reads the explanation we see more fully.
The whole quiz struck me as a good grounding in the basics, but also as providing an example of how easy it is for us to misunderstand each other -even when we are all only speaking English. Those who have trouble with the ‘Mother of God’ business should read and inwardly digest why Protestants should agree with that title.
It also seems to me to speak to one of Jessica’s favourite themes, which is how much orthodox Christians have in common, as well as to one of my recent ones, which is why right belief matters. Question 9 and its answer bears directly onto our discussions about what it means to be ‘saved’. The question reads:
9. I am saved because of my decision to accept Christ.
Some here would, I think, answer yes, but Michael, as good a Bible-believing Protestant as anyone, shows those who think Protestantism teaches this are wrong, with a truly excellent answer:
9. FALSE. This is the error known as decisional regeneration. The Bible teaches that we are not saved by a “human decision” (Jn 1:12-13; Rom 9:16). This is because we cannot do anything that pleases God in our sinful state, but rather, in our original sin nature we are hostile to God, and are enslaved to our own sinful passions (John 6:44, Rom 8:8; 1 Cor 2:14; 2 Cor 4:3-4; Eph 2:1; Gal 3:22; 2 Tim 2:25-26; Tit 3:3-5; 1 Jn 5:19). Therefore, we can only exercise faith in Christ once we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:48, 16:14, 18:27; Rom 10:20; Eph 3:7). This is why faith is rightly spoken of as a gift of God (Eph 2:8-9; Rom 12:3; Php 1:29, John 3:19-21). To be saved by one’s decision would be salvation by one’s actions, and not by grace alone (Rom. 11:5). This is why the Bible repeatedly states that we are saved by grace, or by the work of Christ, and not by our own works or actions (Eph. 2:8-10, Mk 10:26-27; Acts 2:47; Rom 5:9-10).
Well, I certainly could not have put it better, and indeed have not put it so well when I have addressed the issue here. We are saved by grace, and grace alone.
I’d be interested to know how others do with the quiz – and if you haven’t caught up with Michael’s blog – it is ever-challengiung and a good read.