Sunday, December 29, 2019

Examining The Treasury Of Merit In Light Of Scripture

          “We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints ‘the Church’s treasury’, which is not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy." (CCC # 1476)

          "This treasury includes, as well, the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord…In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body.” (CCC # 1477)

         First of all, there is no mention in Scripture of us making atonement for the sins of other brethren in Christ. There is no way in which we can satisfy the consequences for sin on behalf of other people. The shed blood of Jesus Christ is our propitiation (Isaiah 53:4-6; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10). His atonement is the only thing which has any value.

         The Apostle Paul stated that if it were possible, he would suffer to bring about the redemption of Israel (Romans 9-10). We can clearly see here a complete contrast between his inadequate work as a moral substitute and the complete sufficiency of Christ's work. Thus, it makes no sense to say that a person can somehow add (i.e. their prayers and good works) to something (i.e. Christ's atonement) which already has infinite worth.

         If the merits of Jesus Christ are infinitely valuable and inexhaustible, then it should atone for both sin and its guilt. This treasury of merit should cover both the temporary and eternal consequences of sin. Yet, the Roman Catholic Church requires its followers to make amends for the temporal punishments of sin through good works and purgatory. The benefits of the treasury of merit are not extended to eternal punishment. This seems inconsistent, given the treasury is spoken of so highly but it cannot cover the guilt of our sin. We might as well say that the treasury of merit cannot fully set one free from sin.

         The treasury of merit implies that the merit of Jesus Christ is insufficient because the merits of Mary and saints are also deemed sufficient. The Roman Catholic hierarchy would certainly dispute the implications of its theology, but for what other reason would one still need the merit of another if Christ's is not already sufficient? Nobody is righteous enough to accumulate merit for themselves and other people (Romans 3:9-23). So, this treasury of merit teaching is both absurd and unscriptural.

1 comment:

Russell said...


Really good points! I agree with everything you said. Good work!

Again, I'm really sorry that I took so long to respond. I don't check my email often enough. You asked me about it way back on the seventh of this month. So please forgive me.

Again, great job with the article!