Despite being an ex-Catholic atheist, I’d like to reply to Constance Michaud’s letter (“Not all Catholics are true Christians,” Jan. 20), where she states that “the true Christian” is one who’s been spiritually reborn from God, a rebirth that can’t be earned.

Michaud misunderstands, I’m afraid. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach that spiritual rebirth from God is earned. What it teaches is that it ordinarily occurs through water baptism, which is ordinarily conferred on infants, who are obviously incapable of earning anything. Adults don’t earn it, either.

That said, Catholicism does have a teaching on earning called the doctrine of supernatural merit.  Very briefly, such merit is made possible by God’s grace, which always precedes and accompanies a good action (prayer, almsgiving, fasting, etc.).  It can’t possibly be gained by a Catholic’s own natural power.

I realize many Christian readers will consider what I’ve stated here anathema. But there’s been disagreement about what constitutes “true Christianity” since forever. Christianity runs the gamut from Catholicism to Calvinism to Quakerism to snake-handling Pentecostalism — all of them absolutely, undeniably irreconcilable.

Just where is the “one faith” the Apostle Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4:5-6?  It doesn’t exist. Christianity will always be a house divided, because the Bible is itself a house divided — a breeder of continual division precisely because it’s the word of man, not of some supreme being out there who intervenes in human history.

William LaRochelle, Lewiston

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