A text out of context, is nothing more than a pretext.
- Using the fundamentalist approach, how on earth can someone who is mute ever be saved; after all, we must confess with our mouth, right?
To understand this verse we need to understand Paul's whole argument in Romans. That is, we are saved by grace through faith, and not by keeping the Mosaic law. It is true, we cannot save ourselves. Our works, done by our own strength do not save us and certainly circumcision, keeping the Jewish dietary laws, and sacrificing animals at the Temple, doesn't save us. In the same manner, keeping the Ten Commandments can't save us either. We need Jesus to save us.
Catholics don't disagree with that. This is an area where our Protestant brothers often have misperceptions about what we believe.
Our profession of faith does lead to justification in the sense that we obviously need to own our faith. True Baptism justifies us and gives us grace but at some point we have to own it.
Owning it, isn't a static event, in that it happens once, and even when we own it, it's not just a Get-out-of-jail-for-free card. Jesus is not our Lord and Bail Bondsman. He's our Lord and Saviour. He gives us the Holy Spirit in order that we might have the power to overcome sin.
Long before we come to Romans 10:9, we have read Romans chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9. These chapters give us the rest of the story, not to mention Romans 1 through 6.
Romans 8 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but it also says that if by the Spirit we put to death the sins of the flesh, then we are the sons of God.
Look, I can make the Bible say anything.
- For example, in one text, Paul tells husbands to love their wives as if they are their own flesh.(Ephesians 5:28)
- In another text, Paul says he beats his flesh into submission every day.
(1 Corinthians 9:27)
So if I take these two verses out of context together, I can argue that Paul advocates wife beating. Now that's an absurd example but it serves us a good illustration and a warning.
We can't just take one verse and say, hey, this is pretty straight forward, it must mean "X".
We need to start by asking the question:
- How does the verse fit into the argument the author is making?
I hope this helps,