Monday, August 10, 2020

Examining Catholic Redemptive Suffering In Light Of Scripture

        This source explains the Roman Catholic idea of redemptive suffering as follows:

        "The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in paragraph 1502 teaches that all pain, toil and sorrow united to Christ's passion "can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others." In paragraph 1505 the CCC explains, "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." Paragraph 1521 likewise states that suffering in "union with the passion of Christ ... acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus."

        Scripture, on the other hand, affirms that it is Jesus Christ Himself who atones for sin and not our suffering in addition to what He has done on our behalf. His work on the cross has ensured that we obtain redemption and the forgiveness of sin:

        "he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9:12)

        Scripture does not bring together our pain and suffering with the shed blood of Christ in the manner of making atonement:

        "So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood." (Hebrews 13:12)

        "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

        "And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." (Revelation 5:9)

        Christ's one offering put away sin and thus any other atoning work is rendered unnecessary:

        "for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:26-28)

        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.

        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. In addition, the term "salvation" encompasses both the instance of "justification" and the ongoing process of "sanctification."

        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, Thomas Constable says, "When a person trusts Christ, God identifies him or her with Christ not only in the present and future but also in the past. The believer did what Christ did. When Christ died, I died. When Christ arose from the grave, I arose to newness of life. My old self-centered life died when I died with Christ. His Spirit-directed life began in me when I arose with Christ. Therefore in this sense the Christian’s life is really the life of Christ. We can also live by faith daily just as we became Christians by faith (v. 16). Faith in both cases means trust in Christ. We can trust Him because He loved us and gave Himself up as a sacrifice for us. In this verse Paul’s use of “crucified” instead of “put to death” or “died” stresses our sinfulness. Only the worst criminals suffered crucifixion in Paul’s day. His reference to “the flesh” here is literal. It means our physical bodies. We can see Paul’s great appreciation of God’s love for him. He said Christ loved “me” and gave Himself for “me.” “The whole of Christian life is a response to the love exhibited in the death of the Son of God for men.”


  1. 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?

  2. 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!

  3. 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.