Do you know the 5 solas which are also known as the 5 alone doctrines of the protestant reformation from the 1500's?
Glory To God Alone
I found the following online, so I'll go a little deeper before coming back to CHRIST ALONE throughout this article and more toward the end.
Grace Alone - The only method. Our justification and salvation are both solely by the sovereign grace of God and not dependent on any action or condition man provides.
Faith Alone - The only means. Our justification before God is by faith in Christ alone, and not by works.
Christ Alone - The only mediator. Because Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man, salvation is only possible by His death and resurrection.
Scripture Alone - The Bible is the only infallible and sufficient rule for governing issues of life and doctrine.
Glory To God Alone - The only ambition. All glory and honor is due to God alone.
There are parts of the above that crossover with Catholic teachings, but the lines get a little blurry which creates confusion among Protestants and Catholics. It's not uncommon for Protestants to be confused about Catholic doctrines and assume Catholics believe that Salvation is by works. Catholics think that it's what they do not what Christ did on the cross: WRONG!
But no matter your stance, Protestant or Catholic, doesn't one have to take action? Confess our sins and turn to Christ. I'll go even further. Christ said for us to take up our cross and follow Him. But the argument is what Christ did on the Cross not what we do. Read on, dig in and stop thinking Catholics work their way to heaven after making a detour through purgatory.
Part of the reason that I am Catholic now is because I believe the Catholic teachings to be the correct version and the Protestant version to be interpreted by the reformers based on their opinion of scripture which didn't happen until the 16th century. That's a long time after the death of Christ. And no, there wasn't some small group of Christians that existed since the time of Christ that magically appeared in the 1500's ( see this ).
I'll get back to CHRIST ALONE in just a moment, but rather than attempt to get into Faith, Grace and Scripture here, I have provided links below. As for Glory To God Alone, Catholics only worship God as the True Living God which includes Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Contrary to some beliefs, Catholics don't worship Mary and the Saints.
Remember, I'm a former 40+ year Protestant Christian, so I get both sides of this.
There seems to be a belief among many Christians that as long as I have ME and Jesus ( CHRIST ALONE ) and my Bible ( SCRIPTURE ALONE ) then that's ALL I NEED. If that's all there is to it, then why don't we all live like a hermit in the Himalayas? Could it be that Christ Himself called us to be more and do more?
Don't get me wrong, I love Jesus. He's my SAVIOR. I love the Bible. It's God's word. However, there are fallacies with the ALONE doctrines when expanded upon and there can be DANGER in some of the beliefs that have lead to a TON of confusion among professing Christians. But many will quickly come back to, it's Christ on the Cross. That's what really matters. It's so simple. Don't make the Gospel complicated. That's part of my point: CHRIST ALONE! But read on.
Why do we need 5 ALONE doctrines? Who came up with them? The Bible does NOT clearly say, "Thus saith the Lord, the 5 alone doctrines you should follow are Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, Scripture Alone and Glory To God Alone." Scripture Alone can be clearly shown that it's not a Biblical concept. The problem is that many see what they want to see and 500 years of the ALONE doctrines have created a specific way of thinking that often leads to others even saying CATHOLICS ARE NOT CHRISTIANS.
I say faithful, knowledgable Catholics are Christians. If you don't think their are people in ALL Churches checking the box and not really engaged, then I think you might want to rethink that. It's not correct to make a blanket statement that Catholics are not Christians because they cannot clearly articulate the 5 solas or the Romans road to salvation or a lot of other non-Catholic versions of how one becomes a Christian.
Why not just focus on ONE ALONE - CHRIST ALONE? At the end of the day, isn't that the most important one? Does the Bible save us or does Christ save us? That's kind of a catch 22 question isn't it? But as Christians, we stand before God based on CHRIST not because we read a book even if that book is the Word of God. If anyone asks you, why are you going to heaven? Your answer will likely not be "Because I read the Bible."
Could there be more than 5 alone doctrines? How about the GOOD NEWS ALONE? Christ did command us to share the GOOD NEWS - that GOOD NEWS is the GOSPEL. How about LOVE OTHERS ALONE? Christ did command us to love our neighbor as ourselves?
I'm not trying to be funny, sarcastic or as some may even think sacrilegious. I do dearly love Jesus Christ and the Word of God - The Bible! I mean deeply, truly, whole heartedly. Anyone who knows me personally very well at all would verify that without hesitation.
As a 40+ year, former Protestant, there were a lot of things that I just accepted and never really dug into. There were other things that I felt firm about like one can lose their salvation and turn their back on God after accepting Christ and end up in hell, but there are millions of professing Christians who say ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED. I never bought into that during my Southern Baptist days. I pretty much got to the point that I believed what I believed about what the Bible says: the BIBLE ALONE - Private Interpretation Alone. It was all just so confusing on why there were so many interpretations that I couldn't believe BOTH lose your salvation and once saved always saved. They contradict each other, but they both come from the same Bible.
Here's how I lived many years of my life as a NON-Catholic Christian "when" I wasn't involved in a Church:
Me and Jesus ( CHRIST ALONE ) - That's IT!
...I had already accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior by FAITH.
...I had already received God's GRACE by Him bringing me to Christ.
...Although I believed it was symbolic, I had been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
...I knew ALL GLORY belonged to GOD ALONE.
...I had already read the Bible ( SCRIPTURE ) cover to cover and spent numerous hours reading and studying it.
So if 4 out of the 5 were all set, then CHRIST ALONE was what was left and CHRIST ALONE was all I needed hidden in my heart for me to enjoy as my personal Lord and Savior.
I said all that to say this.
More than once in my life, I became a STAY AT HOME ME AND "CHRIST ALONE" Christian.
...I don't need to attend Church because that doesn't SAVE ME.
...There is too much confusion among Christians on scripture. I'll just stay at home: Me and CHRIST ALONE!
...I'm SAVED and heaven bound as long as I continued to repent if I felt like I had sinned.
...I don't need to read my Bible regularly because I've already spent countless hours reading it. And I rarely did read it as a Me and CHRIST ALONE professing Christian.
...I didn't live out most of the commands of Christ further down in this article.
...I was content and lukewarm. I was lukewarm because at least I still had CHRIST ALONE but not really taking action. If you know scripture, you know what the Bible says about being lukewarm: "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." At times, I was likely a cold Christian and not even lukewarm. I really did nothing much but pray sometimes, repent of sins from time to time and hide CHRIST ALONE in my heart.
The ALONE doctrines can and do create ( at times ) and ALONE mentality of I don't have to do anything else now that I have repented and accepted Christ because Jesus paid it all. When I stand before God, Jesus will stand in my place because of His shed blood. BUT while Jesus did pay it all and salvation is through CHRIST ALONE, is kicking back on easy street the way we are called to live as Christians?
I've seen other Christians take a similar path of becoming stay at home Christians or maybe occasionally going to Church but not really doing much at all for Christ.
Don't dare think that I was NEVER SAVED to begin with because I would go through periods of living like I shared above. I had been on fire numerous times throughout my life for God: Involved in various ministries, leading Bible study, attending Church faithfully, volunteering to help out, etc.
When a Protestant Christian goes lukewarm or even cold, at some point, they often REDEDICATE their life to Christ. Meaning they are ready to rekindle the fire they once had to live for Christ and more than likely take some key actions like getting involved at Church, reading their Bible more, etc. Most Protestant Christians who REDEDICATE their life to Christ don't have the intention of playing golf every Sunday after making a step toward REDEDICATION. It's kind of like reverting to their original moment of salvation when they turned from sin and turned to Christ.
If I accept Christ by FAITH ALONE and STOP truly living out my FAITH for Christ by saying "I've got CHRIST ALONE wrapped up in my heart. I love Jesus and he loves me. I'm bound for heaven." Is that right? Where do you draw the line?
If it's by grace through faith that I accept Christ giving all glory to Him as part of the Holy Trinity and I believe Scripture is the word of God even if I don't continue to read it regularly because I feel I know what I need to know, isn't that good enough? FYI, I don't think it was or is. It's not how I want to serve Christ who shed His blood for the sins of the world by dying on the cross. But thanks be to God, he rose to glorious victory.
Was I fooling myself by living a CHRIST ALONE life and pretty much doing nothing else? Does the other 4 alone doctrines matter?How do the 5 solas line up with Catholic teachings.? Do Catholic teachings matter? Does sharing the Gospel, giving to others, living my faith in action really matter? I mean come on I had CHRIST ALONE in my heart for me to find warm fuzzies in as my personal Lord and Savior. I had repented of my sins and continued to repent if I felt I had sinned. I was all set. Right?
Was it OK?
1) Was it OK if I didn't go to Church?
2) Was it OK if I didn't read my Bible very much at all because I already knew the Gospel and had read the Bible?
3) Was it OK if I didn't share the Gospel?
4) Was it OK if I just tucked CHRIST ALONE away in my heart?
5) Was it OK if I pretty much did NOTHING but repent if I felt I sinned and just had me and CHRIST ALONE?
6) Was it OK if I didn't regularly give time and money to any ministry?
7) Was it OK if I just stopped going to men's Bible study?
8) Was it OK if I just did what I wanted to do on Sunday?
9) Was it OK if I just stopped coaching Christian boys basketball because someone else would come along and do it?
I think the Bible is clear that we are COMMANDED to live out our Christian faith beyond just believing ( FYI, believing is a VERB and verbs are action words. ):
James 2:19 says "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." That's kind of like Hooray, you believe. Even the demons believe. So you are on their level: You and demons both believe. GOOD!
On the one hand, if you answer that it's "not OK" for me to be a lukewarm to even cold at times as a professing Christian and that I should do some things for the Lord. You might say His word commands us to do more than sit at home ( if physically able to do more ), then works, although in and of themselves, do not save us, DO play a role in our walk with the Lord and I cannot just sit in my recliner with CHRIST ALONE hidden in my heart which I have done a few times in my life.
"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless. Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by *faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."
*The only time you'll find FAITH ALONE actually together in the Bible. You can take all the other text on faith and those on works like Paul saying "Not of works, lest any man should boast." Then, twist those to how you interpret the Bible to come to your own conclusion while at the end of the day never being able to prove FAITH ALONE from the Word of God. Read this short article on Justification by Dr. David Anders.
On the other hand, if you answer that it's "OK" for me to just have me and CHRIST ALONE hidden in my heart not really actually doing much of anything, what do you do with James above? What do you do with the commands of Jesus below?
Let Your Light Shine, Do Not Lust, Keep Your Word, Go the Second Mile, Love Your Enemies, Seek God’s Kingdom, Judge Not, Do Unto Others, Pray for Laborers, Honor Your Parents, Be a Servant, Bring In the Poor, Love the Lord, Love Your Neighbor, Keep My Commandments, Watch and Pray, Feed My Sheep, Baptize My Disciples, Make Disciples and this is NOT the complete list. What do you think Christ meant when he said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
Just to be clear, the first work of GRACE in the Catholic Church is NOT working to earn salvation:
CCC1989 "The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man." - BUT it doesn't stop there.
Becoming a Catholic has made me a BETTER BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN. Yes, Catholics are Christians and NO, Catholics don't work their way to heaven by their own merit.
We all have to answer to God for our actions or lack thereof. Christ did command us TO DO!