Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Guy Sebastian on Catholicism

so guy sebastian, winner of the first Australian Idol competition in 2003 and someone who "identifies himself simply as Christian"[1], has written and recorded a gospel song titled "Receive The Power", chosen to be the theme anthem for the World Youth Day 2008 congress - the Catholic Church's week of events for youth and with youth.

He is quoted as saying:
I am not Catholic as such but I guess the fundamentals are in place, which is Christ-based faith.[2]
i assume by this he's basically saying something like "I'm Christian. I'm not Catholic. But really they're quite similar aren't they?" now i'm not sure if he's being diplomatic or ignorant, nor indeed what type of "Christian" he really is, but if he means anything along the lines of protestant/reformed/evangelical christianity, then (despite the seemingly large area of similarities) there are some serious fundamental differences between the two. perhaps the biggest being that one believes in salvation by faith PLUS works[3], and the other in salvation by faith ALONE[4], a subtle but deadly[5] difference if you get it wrong.

on a sidenote, i'm also not sure where the gospel is in the song itself. can you pick it?

though granted it's the journalist who uses the label gospel, not someone else whom one might expect to have a better grasp of what the gospel really is... anyways, for another look at the lyrics and some "theological reflection on the song by WYD08 Coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher", check out this blog entry (this link/referral does not constitute endorsement).

[1] Guy goes gospel: Anthem moves Vatican, by Jonathan Morgan, The Sunday Mail June 24 2007 p. 29
[2] ibid


  1. The passage quoted does not express salvation through works but explains how works is an expression of faith, which i have no problem with.

    What is faith without works anyway? That describes to me a non-practicing christian.

    for the broiler try the Good Guys. i dont seem em aorund these days, the last one i saw was at cash converters.

  2. hi noodles, i'm not sure whether the "passage" to which you refer is a bible passage or one of the links i referenced... so i apologise in advance if i've missed your point :)

    i totally agree with works being an expression of faith, and that a faith which does not show itself with works is a dead faith (what james said in 2:17 of his letter). and it is that dead/false faith which he speaks against in v24 when he says what he does about a man being "justified by works, and not by faith alone". this is not the same sense as the roman catholic teaching on justification, which is based on a combination of faith and works[1] - the verse needs to be understood in the context of james' whole argument, for he cannot be teaching something contrary to the rest of Scripture[2].

    basically the problem (though there are, of course, other non-trivial differences between the two) is that evangelicalism believes (being convinced that this is the clear teaching of the whole of Scripture) in justification by faith alone (and is pretty firm about this point, being one of the "solas" of the Reformation[3]), whereas the roman catholic church refutes this teaching[4], which logically leaves us with a "faith plus"[5] option - in this case faith plus works (and baptism...).

    [1] article 2 of the catechism of the catholic church lists what they teach/understand about grace and justificication -
    [2] see and
    [4] see for example
    [5] if you are not saved by faith alone, then you must be saved by faith plus something else (or maybe something quite apart from faith altogether!)