Monday, August 10, 2020

Examining Catholic Redemptive Suffering In Light Of Scripture

         The Roman Catholic Catechism says that our suffering, "...can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others" (CCC, 1502). It also asserts that, "Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: ... By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion" (CCC, 1505). The Catechism claims that our suffering in Christ, "...acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus" (CCC, 1521).

        Scripture, on the other hand, affirms that it is Jesus Christ Himself who atones for sin. Atonement for sin does not involve our suffering in addition to what He has done on our behalf. Christ's work on the cross has ensured that we obtain redemption and the forgiveness of sin. It was done "by His own blood" (Hebrews 9:12), without any suffering on our part. Suffering can result in one being conformed to Christ, but does not have value in the sense of making amends for wrongdoing.

        Scripture does not bring together our pain and suffering with the shed blood of Christ in the manner of making atonement. It only speaks of His blood in the context of His suffering for our sins (Hebrews 9:26-28; 13:12; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 5:9). He alone took that burden from us. Any other atoning work is thus rendered unnecessary. There is nothing we can offer that has redemptive significant for ourselves or other people. Psalm 49:7 tells us that, "No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them."

        Roman Catholic apologists sometimes appeal to texts such as 2 Corinthians 1:5-7, Colossians 1:24, and Galatians 2:20 in order to substantiate the idea that our suffering can cancel out punishment for sins committed by ourselves and for other people when offered together with the sacrifice of Christ. These verses have been taken out of context, however.

        Regarding the text from 2 Corinthians, hardship for preaching the gospel resulted in it being shared and exemplified to the Christians dwelling at Corinth. Suffering can produce comfort and hope in God, which can be shared with other people. 

        Regarding the text from Colossians, one commentator explains, "That which is behind of the sufferings of Christ — That which remains to be suffered by his members. These are termed the sufferings of Christ, 1. Because the suffering of any member is the suffering of the whole; and of the head especially, which supplies strength, spirits, sense, and motion to all 2. Because they are for his sake, for the testimony of his truth. And these also are necessary for the church; not to reconcile it to God, or satisfy for sin, (for that Christ did perfectly,) but for example to others, perfecting of the saints, and increasing their reward."

        Regarding the text from Galatians, we are identified with Christ but that does not mean our sufferings have any merit in regard to our justification before God. Paul speaks of his own life as if it were the life of Christ itself. He speaks on a personal level about Christ loving him and dying for him. He shows appreciation and lives out his life in view of that reality.


Unknown said...

I used your info as an idea for a topic on a Catholic/Protestant debate group on Facebook.
Here it is...

Redemptive suffering is unbiblical.
Are we really to believe that if a Catholic is ill, they may..."offer"... their illness to God in exchange for the success of the papacy?
In an article from "" called, "John Paul II and the Meaning of Suffering", we read that he spoke to a gathering of sick people outside of a monastery in Poland. This is what he told them:
"My pilgrimage to Poland cannot go without a word to the sick, who are so close to my heart. I know, my dear friends, how in your letters to me you often write that you are offering for my intentions the heavy cross of your illness and suffering, that you are offering it for my mission as Pope. May the Lord reward you."
Shockingly, he is asserting that our illnesses may be... "offered"... to God for the success of the papacy (or for the answer to any other prayer). Consequently, the RCC teaches that redemptive suffering is any trial or tribulation, that when.. "offered up"... and "united" to Jesus' work on the cross, may expect to be exchanged for some other good. This is a monstrous doctrine and simply another way of how the papacy robs the glory of God by "bringing new meaning to suffering by uniting our own miseries to his redemptive passion" (CCC 1505).
As one has rightly said, "Scripture does not bring together our pain and suffering with the shed blood of Christ in the manner of making atonement"

Worse still, catechism editors actually believe that Isaiah the prophet "intuitively" knew that "suffering can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others" (1502). Oh really? How do catechism editors intuitively know that Isaiah was intuitively teaching about redemptive suffering??? They footnote 53:11, BUT THAT VERSE IS SPEAKING OF CHRIST!
"After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities".
What they've done here is to shamefully twist Isaiah 53:11 into a platform for human suffering being redemptive for others, when the verse says no such thing. It is disgraceful.
Psalm 49:7 declares.... "No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them". Thus, only Christ is qualified for the work of redemption (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Rev 5:9).
If the idea of redemptive suffering were not bad enough, they go on to say that when our GOOD WORKS are... "offered" prayer, they TOO may factor in to the redemption of another man's soul (!!!).
"From the most ancient times in the Church, good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners....indeed, the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent was WASHED, CLEANSED AND REDEEMED with the help of the entire Christian people." ("Indulgentiarum Doctrina").
When will the madness end?

Russell said...


Very well said!

Russell said...

Great job, Jesse! You hit the nail on the head again! They love to twist biblical statements in order to promote Catholic ideas.

Your blog is helping to bring these things to light. Thanks again!

jack mills said...

Participation in the redemptive work of Christ through our temporal sufferings is nothing more than arrogant thinking from the mind of the natural man. This man cannot grasp the beauty and power of God's grace. Every religion on earth is unable to receive the totality of God's kindness. To these lost souls the Lord Jesus is just not enough.