Question: In your September newsletter you quoted in its entirety the Promise Keepers article from the July 20, 1997 Our Sunday Visitor which included the revision in PK’s statement of faith to satisfy Roman Catholics. I don’t see how changing “accepting through faith alone, God’s gift of salvation, which was made possible by Christ’s death” to “Only through faith, trusting in Christ alone for salvation, which was made possible by His death and resurrection” changes anything—or that either statement is wrong. Would you please explain the difference? I don’t see it.
Response: First of all, there must be a difference or the Catholics would not have insisted upon the change. Promise Keepers has revised this statement several times. The Catholic revision includes the Resurrection, which is more biblical. But that wasn’t what they were after. One must know Catholicism to understand the difference between “accepting through faith alone, God’s gift of salvation” and “trusting in Christ alone for salvation.”
The former is biblical and leaves no room for works. Salvation is a gift and must be received as such. A gift cannot be earned, paid for or merited in any way—it can only be received, and that “through faith alone.” Salvation, being “God’s gift,” must be received directly from Him and the only requirement for receiving it is “faith alone.”
The former refers to “accepting...the gift of salvation.” The latter simply says that it was Christ alone who made salvation possible, but says nothing about how that salvation is accepted or received. Catholicism declares that salvation comes from the merits of Christ, but that it is only through the Church and its priesthood that the “graces” Christ won can be received; and then only in installments which must be repeated endlessly. No one ever gets saved, no one ever receives salvation as a certainty, but one must keep coming back to the Church and its sacraments to receive further installments.
Catholicism teaches that “Christ won for the world all the graces it needs for salvation and sanctification. But these blessings are conferred [by the Church] gradually and continually since Calvary and mainly through the Mass....Consequently, the Mass is a truly propitiatory sacrifice, which means that by this oblation ‘the Lord is appeased, He grants grace and the gift of repentance, and He pardons wrongdoings and sins....’ The priest is indispensable, since he alone by his powers can change the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ...the more often the sacrifice [of the Mass] is offered the more benefit is conferred” (John A. Hardon, S.J., Pocket Catholic Dictionary (Doubleday, 1985), pp. 248-249). Vatican II declares, “For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist [Mass], ‘the work of our redemption is accomplished’....” (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Introduction, par. 2).
The PK statement declared that salvation is a gift from God that is received by faith alone directly from God. As revised to satisfy the Catholics, it now says that salvation is based alone on the work of Christ, but leaves open how salvation is to be received. That is the difference.
Tragically, Bill McCartney, who was a practicing Catholic all of his life before he began to attend a Vineyard because his family liked it better, apparently has no conviction on how a person is saved. And he is willing to leave Roman Catholic attendees with the impression that they are no different from evangelicals and that what their Church teaches about salvation is correct. One day he, and the others who promote PK and preach at PK gatherings, will give an account to God for leading multitudes astray.