But come on, you must think I’m damned

What do you mean by “all Protestants”?

You had said, “Also, the official position of Rome […] is that anyone who affirms sola Scriptura IS anathema.”  In saying, “what you can’t say is that Catholics believe that all Protestants are damned”, I was saying that you can’t say what you had said 🙂  My “all protestants” was intended to reflect your “anyone who affirms Sola Scriptura“.  In other words, it means “all Protestants” 🙂

Is it not true that I (not every conceivable Protestant) am anathema in Rome’s eyes because I not only profess but preach justification by faith alone and sola scriptura, administer the sacraments, deny papal infallibility, marian dogma, and the sacrificial nature of the Lord’s Supper?

No, it is not true.  As I have previously said, there no longer exists the penalty of anathema.  Even if it did exist, it was an excommunication, which can only apply to Catholics.  Do Baptists really excommunicate people not in communion with them?  However that may be, Catholics don’t.  Furthermore, I have repeatedly quoted the Catechism section on those Christians who are not in communion with the Catholic Church.  In speaking of such people, it states,

All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.


[O]ne cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities…


[M]any elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church

It really cannot get any clearer than that.  Protestants are not anathema (because it no longer exists), and are not excommunicated (because they never were in communion) and are not damned* (by virtue of espousing faith alone and sola scriptura).  That is what the official Catechism of the Catholic Church says.  I know it doesn’t fit into the whole “the Catholic Church hates us” paradigm, but there you have it.

I’ve read Trent. I know what it says.

That’s great.  I applaud you for reading it.  However, as you will no doubt agree, texts need to be put into the correct contexts to be understood.  Now, it’s true, as I have said before, Trent is still on the books.  The doctrines it puts forth are still to be held by all the Catholic faithful.  They are binding on Catholics.  We believe them to be true.  We wish you would too.  None of that has changed.  The Church’s teaching on faith and morals cannot change.

But, and this is key, it is not part of the Catholic faith that you are damned, however much you would like to think it is.  As I have said, the teachings haven’t changed, but the players (and canon law) have.  That is the key.  It is a sin to break away from the Catholic Church.  But here’s the thing: you and none of my Protestant friends have broken away from the Catholic Church.  You were never there.  As the Catechism says, “[O]ne cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities.”  You are not guilty of the sin that the Reformers and their immediate followers were.  They were guilty of breaking communion with the Church.  You were never in communion.  You might think that’s splitting hairs.   But, well, we don’t.

Please either say “Yes, Trent condemns you,” or “No, we’ve changed our minds since Trent.”

Come on, now.  You’re not even trying to listen to anything I have to say.  You’ve got your “truth” and you’re sticking to it, to the point of dictating to me the answers that you are willing to hear.  The answer is, Trent repudiated the beliefs of your forbears, and excommunicated them.  To the extent that you hold to their beliefs, you are missing a portion of the truth that God has for you.  But it is silly to keep insisting that the Catholic Curch excommunicate you too.  The Church doesn’t excommunicate Mormons either, or Jews, or Buddhists.   She only excommunicates Catholics.  And usually ’cause we deserve it too.  If you really want to be excommunicated, become Catholic!

Anyway, I keep saying the same thing over and over again.  Unless you have a new question, I think I’ve pretty much said all there is to say on this topic.

I am relieved that after pronouncing me “anathema” repeatedly in Trent the Church of Rome still calls me “brother”.

The reason she calls you brother is ’cause she never pronounced “you” anathema.  Ball’s in your court, dude.  You have been informed of what the Catechism says about you.  Will you, a) continue to bear false witness against other Christians by asserting things about us which are not true (i.e., that we think y’all are damned), or will you b) say, “huh, I didn’t know that, I guess I shouldn’t say those things anymore”, and move on to the real meat of Trent, which is, you know, what it teaches about justification and all that other cool stuff.

Whatever path you choose, fellow brother in Christ, please be assured of my prayers in your new job.

* As a quick edit, I will quote one more line from the catechism, to flesh another aspect of why Protestants are not damned for believing Sola Scriptura:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know […] his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation. (CCC 847)

So we’re not saying all Prots will be saved.  Heck, we don’t even say all Catholics will be saved.  The Church assumes that many Protestants, having been brought up in certain circles, have never really heard the truth claims of the Catholic Church.  All Protestants “may” be saved, but it will be in spite of their beliefs, because they were acting out of inculpable ignorance.  If not so inculpable, then the deal’s off.  And that, at root, is between the believer and God.  And so we come full circle to, that’s why the Church doesn’t damn anyone.  She can’t.  And she couldn’t.


~ by Rob on October 15, 2008.

3 Responses to “But come on, you must think I’m damned”

  1. Neither the ‘Catholics’ or ‘Protestants’ have a monopoly re. “anathema”. Whether by ‘formal decree’ or otherwise, Jesus Barabbas is a prime example of one being regarded and held as anathema… save by me.

  2. Say what?

  3. To ‘Rob’…

    Sorry, I’m so late in responding…

    You asked, “Say what?”

    What can be any plainer…? Jesus Barabbas is regarded and held as ‘anathema’… except by me.

    Jesus Barabbas, written in the original Greek Gospel attributed to Matthew (27:17), -but omitted from the Latin translation of the same text and most of all the sub-sequential translations thereafter (around 390 A.D.)., -nevertheless is as His ‘appellation’ makes plain.

    ‘Barabbas’ is not a proper name per se’, -rather, it is an Aramaic appellation, -the meaning of which is Bar = Son + Abba = Father (as in ‘the Father of us all’ or ‘God’). Hence ‘Jesus Barabbas’ or ‘Jesus, the Son of (our) God’.

    Even though His ‘name’, for the most part, has been and is ‘omitted’ elsewhere and that He is ‘documented’ (as being) called ‘Barabbas’ bespeaks volumes.

    Roland, a reluctant iconoclast.

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