Skip to comments.Can Catholics Be Christians?
Posted on 12/08/2009 11:41:52 AM PST by Gamecock
I just came from a funeral service for an aunt of mine who was a staunch Catholic. I came out of that religion about 25 years ago after reading for myself what the Bible had to say. My question surrounds the actuality of salvation for all the millions who still practice Mary worship and so forth. Knowing that one cannot serve two masters, I wonder at how it is possible that the aforementioned can really experience Christ in a saving way, while they continue to believe that the church of Rome is solely responsible for their eternal welfare.
Greetings in Christ Jesus our Lord and only Savior. Thank you for your question.
Unless a person is clearly outside the pale of the Christian faith, I do not believe that you can judge the "actuality" or "reality" of someone's salvation. You may judge the "credibility" of their faith; or you may question the "probability" of someone's salvation. You may also ask, as you have done, "how it is possible that the aforementioned can really experience Christ in a saving way."
None of us, however, can truly say that we are perfect in knowledge or practice. We are always growing both in wisdom and in the grace of God. Is it possible for someone who prays to Mary to be a true Christian? In other words, can someone who is truly saved be in error on such an issue?
Conscious compromise of God's truth can be serious and deadly, but we also see from Scripture that in his mercy God may (and does) choose to accept less than perfect understanding and obedience, even of his own people. (Indeed, isn't the salvation and the perseverance of the saints dependent upon that fact?) There will be growth in understanding and holiness, but perfection must await our going to be with Jesus or His return to take us unto himself (see 1 John 3:2).
In the Old Testament, consider Asa in 1 Kings 15. He removed the idols from the land, but he allowed the high places to remain. The high places were clearly unacceptable. But the text states that Asa was loyal to the Lord his entire life. How could this be? Had he not seriously compromised?
What about the New Testament? Consider the Corinthians. Was the church at Corinth an exemplary church? Did they not have many doctrinal problems, e.g., concerning the Lord's Supper and the doctrine of the resurrection? (See 1 Cor. 11 and 1 Cor. 15.) Did even the apostles fully understand? Even though what they wrote was protected from error, did they not grow and mature in their own understanding and obedience? Wasn't it necessary at one point, for instance, for Paul to rebuke Peter for his inconsistency? (See Gal. 2.)
My point is not to defend the doctrinal aberrations of Rome. I do not believe such is possible. I think, however, that people generally follow their leaders. They learn from them; they consider their arguments rational and coherent.
For example, consider devotion to Mary. I read Jarislov Pellikan's Mary Through the Centuries and I cannot get past page 10 before I am wondering why the author is so blind to the fallacies of his arguments. However, if I were not being so critical and I were already predisposed to the position, then his arguments would perhaps seem irrefutable. So then, we should boldly, patiently, and compassionately discuss these matters with our loved ones, praying that the Holy Spirit will grant them more understanding.
Whatever we may judge in terms of the "actuality" or "probability" or "possibility" of a person's salvation at the end of life is, in the end, academic, for God is the one who can look at the heart and only he can truly judge. (He is the One, in fact, who has chosen his elect.) "It is appointed to man once to die, and after that comes judgment" (Heb. 9:27), but "Today is the day of salvation" (Heb. 3:13). We should work, therefore, the works of him who sent us while it is light and point our neighbors and loved ones to Christ.
For myself, I too was a Roman Catholic. In the past six months, I have attended the funeral of two uncles and one aunt whom I loved very much. I had opportunity at each funeral to speak a word of testimony regarding the Savior. I stood in the pulpit of the church in which I had served mass as a young boy and in my eulogies spoke of my faith in Christ.
Was it as detailed as I wish it could have been? No, but I am thankful for the opportunity God gave. Do I believe that my family members went to heaven? For one I have hope; for the others, I have little hope. Upon what is my hope based? It is always and only grounded in Christ and the Gospel.
We may define Christianity broadly by including as Christians all who confess the Apostles' Creed. We may define Christianity narrowly by including as Christians only those who confess our particular denominational creed. We need to exercise care, because, if we are too narrow, we may find ourselves excluding someone like Augustine. On the other hand, if we are too broad, we may find ourselves including many who should be excluded.
Personally, therefore, I do not judge. I have either greater or lesser hope. For example, I have greater hope for my Roman Catholic family members who ignorantly follow their leaders without thinking. Many times I find these to be at least open to discussion regarding the Gospel. However, I have lesser hope for people who are self-consciously Roman Catholic; that is, they understand the issues yet continue in the way of the Papacy.
I recommend that you read the book Come out from among Them by John Calvin. I found it very helpful and it addresses somewhat the question that you have raised.
I hope that my answer helps. You are free to write for clarification. May our Lord bless you.
To be nice to you during the Christmas Season, I am just going to say “No comment”...
Whnever I see "Mary worship" I know that person is too ignorant of facts or has been brainwashed by some hillbillies.
No, Hobbs is the defense attorney
just ask a protestant who wrote and kept the bible for the first 1200 years or so......
I have never heard anyone in real life refer to themselves as a "Roman Catholic". Catholics refer to themselves and their faith as simply Catholic. You do not sound authentic to me.
I call them DENIERS.
However, I can tell you that I have not experienced anything like "Mary worship". Even today, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception does not indicate to me a displacement of Jesus. Rather, we celebrate the lives of Mary and all the saints who share in our worship of Jesus.
As I understand it, we ask Mary to pray for us, to intercede on our behalf. I find that no more unusual than offering to say a prayer for a suffering friend. That friend may ask me to say a prayer for them, just as I ask Mary to say a prayer for me.
Also, I say prayers for others who have gone. Whether they are saints or whether they are friends, family or co-workers. I don't expect them to answer a prayer as God would, but rather, it's simply a type of correspondence-a way of keeping them in my mind while I'm here on earth and they are with God.
I find nothing at all unusual or insulting to God that we constantly remember and revere the people who have gone. And never in my brief teachings in the Catholic church have I been led to believe that any of these people are God or Jesus' equal.
An Orthodox Presbyterian would never lie about the Catholic Church....no, never!
There is no such thing as “Mary Worship.”
Catholics have told protestants this time and time again.
We ask Mary to intercede with her Son and pray for us. That’s it.
PS. Have you ever asked anyone to pray for you? Same thing.
To be fair, I believe a bunch of Jewish fishermen, carpenters, rebels and tax collectors were.
More than that: the author is republishing it without refuting it, serving only to spread it further.
That's not mere nonfeasance, but rather true malfeasance.
Someone forgot a line of the Nicene Creed. If they really need to ask what the headline of this thread is about look up the Creed, hint katholikos.
I had never prayed to someone to pray for me.
As a Catholic of many, many years, Your reply was very, very good. God Bless.
I think he does okay. One of the challenges of the sola fide view is where to put sincere error. One wants to avoid making right-belief a “work”. As I say, I think he does okay. Not bad IMHO.
I believe ‘Intercessory Prayer’ is a mainstay of Fundamentalist Protestantism. It is considered one of the gifts of the Spirit.
(I’m Anglican so all of y’all hate me :-> )
I’m a CATHOLIC!!! Of course we don’t do MARY WORSHIP> you really misread what I said.