Skip to comments.Love, Minus the Condemnation
Posted on 09/16/2013 6:00:55 PM PDT by matthewrobertolson
"We love, because He first loved us." - 1 John 4:19
Yesterday's Gospel reading (Luke 15:1-32) encompasses the stories of the lost sheep, of the lost coin, and of the prodigal son, who left his family and wasted his inheritance. These stories remind us of the importance of every soul.
During the telling of the story of the lost sheep, the Pharisees and the scribes, rather than being open to Christ's teachings, could not get over the fact that, This man receives sinners and eats with them. Rather than focusing on evangelization and the salvation of others, they were content with callously judging others.
The story of the lost coin subtly points toward the lengths to which God goes to lead us to Him. He will always sweep and search for us, in the hope that we will love, honor, and want to be with Him.
And as for the prodigal son, he was forced by necessity to take a low-paying job in which he tended to the swine of a local farmer. Still, he was impoverished. At this point, he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating. Eventually, he decided that he need not live under such financial duress and returned to his father, who welcomed him with open arms. The son mirrors what we should do after sinning: feel contrition and return to our heavenly Father.
One of my past professors made an interesting parallel: perhaps the mention of longing to eat with the swine refers back to how the Pharisees viewed sinners (and Christ, for eating with them). The Pharisees, caught up in their ideas of ritual cleanliness, thought of them as filthy pigs.
All of this underscores the inherent value of everyone, that we should not be quick to judge people harshly, and that we should love them. Everyone is valuable, because God cares for everyone (1 Peter 5:7).
Coinciding with this, in the second reading (1 Timothy 1:12-17), Paul gratefully writes that he was shown mercy due to the more than abundant grace of our Lord. He emphasized that, though he was at one time a horrible sinner, God cared enough to personally lead him to a new, Christian path.
And in the Old Testament reading (Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14), we can notice that, even for just one righteous person, God is willing to alter His preferred plans.
In light of this, we can and should, for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of others judge actions, but we should refrain from rashly condemning whole people, because God is personal, He loves everyone, and He is the ultimate Judge (Psalm 7:11; Revelation 20:12).
We must love.
(All verses are from the NASB translation.)
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Frankly, Catholics and Protestants who slam eachother need to repent. Contemplate that one folks.
We are not slamming the people, we are slamming the false religion called Catholicism.
We do this because we do love and don’t want anyone to perish. The truth is not always comfy and cozy. The truth of Christ is an all or nothing proposition.
Would you rather we stand by and say nothing and watch you walk straight to your doom though all tucked up comfy and cozy in your false peace?
That is not what God has called His people to do. We do love you and we want nothing more than you to trust in Jesus just as He said to, without all the erroneous rigmarole and folderol that accomplishes nothing. The Gospel is not all light and love and let’s get along. If it was Jesus would not have said this:
The Sword of the Gospel
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35”For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36 and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.”
This is why I always say that if you are not prepared to sacrifice ALL for Jesus then you do not know Him nor do you want Him. It takes that much. Think about it...do you love Jesus so much that if He asked you to walk out of the Catholic religion and never look back, would you? Many will not, content to stay where they are, sure in their error. I pray that some of you here will hear the Lord calling and He will give you the courage needed to walk away and begin anew with Him. A true believer will never back off or back away and leave you in the darkness without speaking truth.
The one thing I have seen in all Catholics that I have spoken to is that they are not sure they are saved beyond a shadow of a doubt. By being born again of the Holy Spirit, there is no doubt.
Several Catholics here have said that makes no sense to them. Why is that? Because they are working towards their salvation, hoping and praying that somewhere along the journey they will have their doubts erased and be sure, but in case not they can fall back on purgatory and then others can pray them out.
Salvation is a one time event, when the heart calls out to God and asks Him to reveal Himself, asks for forgiveness, and repents. The Holy Spirit then comes to reside in the heart of that person and begins to instruct them in the ways of the Lord.
Is anything else needed? No!
Will I sin again even after saved? Yes.
Will I lose my salvation if I sin again? No!
This is not rocket science, people, but Catholics and other members of false religions make it that difficult. Another Catholic on this forum said it took her a long time to learn Catholicism. Do you honestly think God would make such a convoluted and difficult path to Him....especially when He did all the work and all we need do is believe?
And every time someone spouts off about their false religion, be it Catholics or Mormons or whomever, it makes a mockery of what Jesus did on the cross.
Jesus said, “It is finished.”
And so it is.
Demonstrate that there is even one theological “error” (even by all of the varied Protestant standards) in the post.
........ "In light of this, we can and should, for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of others..."
You make it too easy, blogpimper! There is nothing we have to do to receive the blessing of salvation from the penalties of sin. His love is a "fruit of the Spirit", not some forced requirement.
You can spout all of the RC doctrine that you think supports your premises, but the Word of God clearly presents THE TRUTH! God's love is not conditional on anything but faith in HIM! It really makes a difference when you rely on God's Word for guidance and not some blogpimper posting the heresies of Rome.
Romans 3: 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his bloodto be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. ...
Romans 7 : ...14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to dothis I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in Gods law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
If the Bible is easily understandable by all (which it must be, for Sola Scriptura to work as a doctrine), then all honest individual interpretations must be valid. How is that true for Protestants, but not true for Catholics?
I ask because 1) of your indicting, anti-Catholic tone, and 2) I have seen many comments in this forum lately about how Catholics supposedly “aren’t really Christian” and how Catholic opinions are “invalid.”
Ah, the chosen phrase of the month comes into play again. I am not "anti-Catholic", I am just a Christian led by the Holy Spirit. Your "interpretations" expand on what the Word says, and uses the Roman Catechism as a substitute. I simply added a few comments about the errors you posted, WHICH YOU DON'T/CAN'T REFUTE. and got the typical RC response. The attack is against me, not the truth in the Word of God.
I posted from Paul's words, not my "interpretation. I have formal training and the words in original language that I posted, are as clear as the English you read. We have been grafted into God's family as sons and daughters, and God doesn't "throw out the baby with the bathwater!"
Did you bother to read it before your knee jerked?
2 Corinthians 6: 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.
I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.
NO, post number 2 is CORRECT. All of us, be we either Catholic or Protestant NEED to REPENT, ALL of us.
Thank-you for the excellent posting. God Bless.
Unfortunately, most Catholics tend to have as deep a misunderstanding of Sola Scriptura and other Protestant distinctives as Protestants seem to have about certain Catholic practices.
Sola Scriptura, traditionally understood, does not teach that every man can be his own pope. It does not teach that all truth is in Scripture, nor does it teach that we have to jettison every bit of tradition unless it is vindicated explicitly by the Bible. It does not teach that truth is somehow relative to personal interpretation of Scripture (different strokes for different folks so long as you can quote the Bible to support it, as it were). It does not mean that Billy Bob with his Bible out in the boonies is somehow equally authoritative to someone with a Masters in Theology who has taken the time to study ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. This deep fundamental misunderstanding of Sola Scriptura is the reason why most Catholic apologetics only work on Catholics when it comes to convincing anyone of the correctness of the Catholic position. I say that as a former Catholic who used to study apologetics rigorously.
Sola Scriptura means that the word of Scripture is the final authority in matters of faith. Not the sole authority, mind you, but the final authority. Tradition is acceptable and even necessary, but all traditions, even ones that date back to the earliest of centuries and the Church Fathers, must be weighed against the authority of Scripture. There are two approaches to this, of course. Some Protestants only accept the traditions which can trace some sort of explicit authorization in Scripture. Others, such as myself, take a looser approach and accept tradition so long as it is not rejected by an orthodox interpretation of Scripture but hold that, for a doctrine to be considered necessary for salvation, it must be explicitly spelled out in Scripture. Incidentally, Sola Scriptura itself is arguably not spelled out explicitly in Scripture (although, contrary to Catholic claims, it is strongly suggested and does have Patristic support)... and thus is not necessarily a required belief in order to be saved. That is why I have absolutely no problem considering Catholics and Orthodox "Christians" no different from myself. No church offers a perfect understanding of the doctrines of faith. That is not what Christ promised to the apostles. All that Christ taught was that the gates of Hell would not prevail against Christ's Church. Christ's Church consists of everyone who possesses that Faith which saves, that Faith in Jesus Christ. Having saving faith and understanding the particulars of faith are two very different things. Christ didn't command us to understand Him, but rather asked us to follow Him. Christ didn't come to save the theologians, but rather the poor and broken of spirit.
Now, any Catholic apologist worth his salt will counter that what I've proposed here may or may not all be well and good, but that at the end of the day Scripture is a series of books and books require an interpreter and that Protestantism leaves every man his own interpreter, as you stated before. This, however, is not at all how it works among the great majority of orthodox Protestants. It is a gross oversimplification to the point of farce. Scripture is a text. It is a text written in several ancient languages utilizing multiple literary forms. It fits within a historical, political, and philosophical context far removed from our own. There furthermore exists a body of ancient interpretation of both Scripture and Christian Teaching which is to be found in the works of the Fathers of the Church. To spell it out in other words, Protestants traditionally view Scripture as a work to be approached in a scholarly manner, much as Catholics do. Your average Protestant in the pews follows the interpretation of his pastor not because he views him as some sort of "pope" but rather because his pastor has assumably gone to seminary, studied these matters in depth, and has put in the leg work to earn a reputable degree. The process is every bit as rigorous as the formation process that goes into being a Catholic priest, if not moreso in some cases. If you want to advance some "novel" interpretation of something and be taken seriously, you had better be prepared to support it on some formal scholarly level. You had better be prepared to withstand serious scrutiny and criticism. It is not enough to pull out a handful of out-of-context quotes from the Fathers of the Early Church, back them with a single verse of Scripture removed entirely from its surrounding chapters, claim that Luther said something to the effect that he would agree, and call it a day.
The main point here is that all honest individual interpretations are NOT necessarily valid. To be taken seriously by most Protestants, a position must be defended on all sorts of levels against any number of well-educated critics. The Holy Spirit guides the hearts of believers as we read upon the Scriptures for guidance in our daily lives, but that is far removed from what is involved when it comes to our understanding of doctrine. It is possible to be wrong -- very wrong, in fact. Much of the Bible is easily understandable by all but not all levels of understanding are created equally, nor are they equally authoritative.
How is the Bible above Tradition and everything, when it was put together by Councils which had no Bible to look to?
I think that your post ignores the reality of Protestantism, which is moving away from “mainstream” churches and towards unaccountable, mediocre “non-denominational” churches. The people running these are often not well-trained (see Joel Osteen, for just one example). These people do not usually treat Scripture “as a work to be approached in a scholarly manner,” at least in my experience, and these people have no problem with sowing even more division (not that there wasn’t enough already).
The average Protestant does not thoroughly research a church’s positions before joining it, but typically just goes toward whichever one that they feel best promotes a sense of “community” (which can mean so many things, and is certainly subjective). This even further lowers accountability and the credibility of the church they attend (I mean, they rarely, if ever, have to defend their ideas), further weakening the Body of Christ. And this is the future of Protestantism.
How is it possible for Christians to be “one,” as Christ requested in John 17:20-21, if we’re not united by a single interpretation (at least on essential matters)?
Of course, Protestants frequently retort that they do agree on “the essentials,” but that just isn’t true. They are very fractured over the necessity of baptism, how the Lord’s Supper should be viewed, “faith alone” (a lot of Protestants don’t really believe in it in the first place, and some Protestant theologians are starting to push a more works-oriented theology), etc. They don’t agree on anything!
You are very welcome. May God bless you, as well. :)
You are really confused. Where on earth have you received such erroneous ideas about Catholics.
This “working out our salvation” concept is a totally anti-Christian and false charge directed against Catholics.
We are called to be holy. If we truly believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and in his passion, death and resurrection, then we must love him and serve Him. It is Right and Just.
Jesus told the parable about the self-righteous man who died and arrived at heaven’s gate. He was not recognized, and was asked, when did you feed me?; and When did you cloth me? Whenever you fed and clothed the poor, you did it for Me.
Speaking for myself, I do charitable works not for my salvation, but for love of the Lord, Jesus.
Out of curiousity, what exactly makes you think that those Councils had no Scripture to look to?
The books which constitute the Scriptures existed before those Councils ever met to declare an official canon. We're not talking about a bunch of books that suddenly became authoritative after Councils of Bishops met together to declare them as such -- the books were considered authoritative from the moment they were penned and various canons of "inspired books" have existed from the start. These canons were not necessarily uniform but there were books whose authenticity was more or less universally accepted.
Had the Church, after becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire, not held those councils, we would still have Scripture, albeit most likely with differing canons depending where we went. As it were, Christianity did become the official religion of the Empire and the Empire loved uniformity -- it is not surprising that there would be council to decide on a uniform canon to be used throughout its borders. A single canon was decided on based upon a rigorous examination of existing canons. One need not accept the "authority" of the council in order to accept the canon that it set. The other canons faded into obscurity and God often makes use of the accidents of history to implement His will.
I think that your post ignores the reality of Protestantism
For the sake of argument, I could point out various "realities of Catholicism" which are less than kosher even according to Catholic teaching and you would rightly rebute that such has little bearing on whether Catholic teachings, when properly understood, are in fact correct. The Catholic Church is full of Catholics who are not at all unlike the Protestant laypeople you point to. Catholic priests who are not "well-trained" are not entirely foreign to the history of the Catholic Church either. As for the Joel Osteens, if you consider them representative of Protestant ministers as a whole, I would counter that you are missing the larger picture. That would be no different from me calling the former Bishop Weakland representative of American Catholic bishops.
The average Protestant does not thoroughly research a churchs positions before joining it, but typically just goes toward whichever one that they feel best promotes a sense of community
Your average Catholic is born into it, which is no different. Conscious converts to Catholicism are rare -- and for the record, I did consciously convert to Catholicism when I was younger. Over the years I came to the conclusion that it is not what it claims to be. Those of us who pick a branch of Christianity based on intensive research and go with it are rare.
How is it possible for Christians to be one, as Christ requested in John 17:20-21, if were not united by a single interpretation (at least on essential matters)?
The oneness of Christians that Christ requested is one of love. Institutional oneness to the degree that Catholics desire did not even become a possibility until after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The Catholic emphasis on oneness in interpretation has less to do with Christ's desire that Christians be one and more to do with the Roman Empire's emphasis on uniformity in religion as a potent political tool. Most ancient heresies were connected to imperial political struggles (some of which were waged against the influence of the Church itself). This was reflected strongly in the struggles between Rome and Constantinople which culminated in the Great Schism. The Protestant Reformation, in turn, played out the way it did in no small part due to political realities of the time. Protestants have learned to lay aside our differences to greater or lesser extents but Catholics and Orthodox have continued to insist on that old ancient imperial uniformity. Insofar as they do, I would argue that it is Catholic and Orthodox attitudes that are perpetuating divisions in Christendom and not Protestants.
Of course, Protestants frequently retort that they do agree on the essentials, but that just isnt true.
I think we all, along with Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox, can agree on, say, the Athanasian Creed as a good summation of that Faith which is necessary for salvation: Athanasian Creed
All else seems like window dressing to me -- the important part of baptism isn't whether the water actually regenerates or whether it is a symbol of saving faith but rather that we are in fact baptised according to our Lord's command. The Eucharist may become the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ or it might be just a symbolic act done in remembrance of Him -- the important part is that the Lord commanded us to come to His table and to take and eat. Christ's salvation does not depend on whether we believe our acceptance of him was of our own free will or if we believe that it was predestined from before the world was created -- Christ's salvation is entirely dependent upon whether we believe that by dying He destroyed our life and by rising He restored our Life. I don't even think it really matters to Christ whether we believe we are saved by Faith and that our works come as a result of that faith after the fact or whether we believe that we are saved by both faith and good works -- what matters to Him is that we hear his Word and do it.
Are you born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, Gumdrop?
If not, then you are not saved and will not enter the kingdom of God.
This is my point....and it seems that most Catholics are in serious doubt as to their salvation even Mother Teresa.
I am not confused at all.
Of course you will defend the Catholic position as you are Catholic.
I have already repented, placed my trust in Jesus, and have been filled with the Holy Spirit.
If you have not, then you will never see the kingdom of God.
You can extrapolate and twist and do whatever you choose to do with God’s words but at the end of the day it is your soul that is in jeopardy.
And if there is any slight doubt at all, and only you know if there is, you’d better think very hard about what you believe.
My post is 100% correct whether you choose to believe or not. If you are chosen of God, He will open your eyes. But if you are not, then you will remain in your deception.
As I say again and again, do you want Jesus more than anything else, and that includes Catholicism? Most everyone here would choose Catholicism over Jesus to their everlasting shame.
Take your chances with that, biggirl. But are you willing to stake your very soul on what you believe? Better be darn sure.
The Councils did, of course, have Scripture to look to, but they had to decide which were canonical and which were not. On what basis did they do this? They could only have done it through logic and Tradition (guided by the Holy Spirit, of course).
As for your “realities of Catholicism” comment: I think that there is a difference between such Protestants and such Catholics. In Protestantism, such dissention is institutionally accepted; in Catholicism, it is not.
On your third point, I think that it is quite different. A Catholic can choose any parish they like, but all of those parishes are united under one general theology. A Protestant (even a “mainstream” one), however, does not usually have the same luxury. Different Protestant churches can teach wildly different things.
Most of the points in your fourth paragraph are probably too opinion-based for me to give you any convincing response, so I will refrain from trying to do so.
I agree that the Athanasian Creed is quite good (though I don’t think it’s adequate enough to deal with all essential theological issues).
Do you ever pray? Do you ever fast? Do you ever give alms?
Sorry, I remain unconvinced.
You will notice that nowhere did Mr. Armstrong say why he thought he deserved to be in Heaven. Instead he danced all around the topic even calling the question into question. It was not a gotcha question on the part of Mr. Slick, but boy Mr Armstrong sure wasn’t take any chances. Cover all the bases just in case.
He used two whole paragraphs to essentially say nothing, whereas I would only use one word: Jesus.
Which kind of makes my point. Catholics take an infinitely long road to go nowhere, whilst believers get there quickly and expediently. We don’t waste precious time on the long road...we know we have gotten there all in one fell swoop. Guess that is why you call it Protestant lite. Ah well.
But thanks for sharing that with me.
The Councils did, of course, have Scripture to look to, but they had to decide which were canonical and which were not. On what basis did they do this? They could only have done it through logic and Tradition (guided by the Holy Spirit, of course).
I think that there is an important part of the picture we are not looking at here. The Councils to which you are referring did not pull the canon out of thin air. They did not say, "You know what we really need? Scriptures of our own. Let's go through all the books floating around that people seem to think are inspired and create an authoritative list." Discussions regarding the "true canon" had gone on from the moment that writings from the apostles began circulating and the official canon had fully developed in an organic manner before any council weighed in on the matter.
Before I go on, I will repeat my earlier statement that Protestants do not consider "tradition" to be bad. Scripture itself, along with its canon, is a form of tradition -- it falls under the category of "Paradosis." What we would argue, however, is that various sources of tradition have varying levels of authority. A letter by a Frankish bishop in 900 AD is not necessarily as authoritative as, say, a bona fide Father of the Church. The writings of a Father of the Church are not more authoritative than the writings of the Apostles and Prophets, the Scriptures themselves. A river cannot rise higher than its source; a tradition is only as authoritative as the manner in which it was transmitted. Apart from Scripture, the sources of tradition come from fallible men. That is why we teach Sola Scriptura -- Scripture is the standard against which all other traditions must be compared because it is the only truly infallible form of Paradosis that we have.
I digress, however; back to my main point. I think it would be useful at this point to clarify which Councils we are referring to here. Usually, when Catholic apologists make the argument that the canons were set by Church Councils, they are referring to the Synod of Hippo in 393 AD and the Council of Carthage in 397 AD. In terms of apologetics, it's a great talking point that had me convinced for quite a while back when I first converted to the Catholic Church. "Protestants wouldn't even know what books belong in the Bible if not for the Councils of the Catholic Church! You can thank us later!" Unfortunately, when examined in depth, that argument is flawed from both a historical and dogmatic standpoint.
Historically, the canon with which we ended up existed prior to the Synod of Hippo and the Council of Carthage. Origen supposedly used a canon consisting of the same 27 books as early as the early 200s AD. At that time, there was a large amount of discussion regarding the Antilegomena ( Letter to the Hebrews, James, II Peter, II and III John, and Revelation -- the canonicity of these books was still in distpute) but the rest of the New Testament was more or less agreed upon among orthodox Christians. The Muratorian fragment, in fact, dates back to around 200 AD and lists a set of writings very close to the New Testament canon we have today, complete with arguments against objections to those books. Jumping a century and a half into the future, St. Athanasius mentioned all 27 books of the New Testament and referred to them as "canonized" in his Easter letter a full 26 years prior to the Synod of Hippo. By the time the of Hippo and Carthage, the matter arguable was largely considered to have been authoritatively settled. St. Augustine himself, who called the councils, had considered the matter already closed before calling the councils. The councils didn't really settle anything that hadn't been considered settled already, for the most part.
There is one other problem with the Hippo/Carthage argument, however. Hippo was a local synod and Carthage was a local council. Neither was Ecumenical in nature. Neither was called upon by an Emperor or Pope to settle the matter authoritatively although they were ratified by the Church in Rome (which was the patriarchial seat of the West at the time, arguments of papal supremacy aside). Local councils aren't convoked under the auspices of infallibility as that doctrine has come to be understood in the Catholic Church. The Councils in question did not create a new canon and, being local councils, they were not considered binding throughout the Universal Church at the time -- the Sees of the East did not see it necessary to bind themselves to its decision. The biggest problem for Catholic apologists who utilize the "Councils" objection to the Canon of Scripture is that the Catholic Church itself did not actually dogmatically define the canon in a binding manner until the Council of Trent in 1546 AD, after the Reformation had occur. When Martin Luther was trying to determine which books belonged in the New Testament, he wasn't rebelling against something which had been dogmatically agreed upon prior to his being ousted from the Catholic Church, but was rather trying to figure out something which, dogmatically speaking, was still up in the air prior to his ejection. Protestants did come to dogmatically agree upon the same New Testament canon as Catholics, but they did so quite independently of any dogmatic declarations of the Catholic Church. Calvinists agreed upon their canon with the Gallic Confession of Faith of 1559. The Church of England set its canon with the Thirty-Nine Articles in 1563. The Eastern Orthodox, for what it's worth, did not dogmatically settle the issue until the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672.
This post is already way too long and I've addressed what I considered to be the substantive part of this discussion -- the rest seems to boil down to differences of opinion between us that tie into our different understandings of Christianity. As a Catholic, you see Christianity focused around God through the Church. You believe that the Church has a God-given duty to cultivate faith within the people, and thus it is essential that the people have access to what you consider the Truth right from the start. Protestants, however, see Christianity as focused on God through the individual believer. God calls His own by working His grace upon the heart of the individual believer, who then goes out in active search for his Lord. The individual who starts and remains in a "mediocre" church (whatever that is... for our purposes I'll call it a spiritually dead church) and never grows as a Christian was never called to begin with. The True Christian cannot be satisfied with such and actively seeks Life in Christ. Note that such does not mean that he will necessarily go to the place that teaches theology closest to what is true, although it does mean he will be drawn to a place where those orthodox basics are taught (that which is summed up best in the Creeds), as that is where life is. Christ did not send us the Holy Spirit to make us theologians, possessing perfect understandings of how and why God works in the way He does. That would be even more futile than my dog trying to understand why I am telling him to go outside -- maybe it's because he did something bad and I am punishing him, maybe it's because I think he needs to go do his business, maybe it's because it's a nice day and I think he should get some exercise, or maybe it's because I want him to chase away that squirrel that keeps getting into the bird feed. The important part isn't that he understands why I put him out, but rather that he goes out. And my dog has a better chance of figuring out my purposes than I ever have of understanding God's. With God, all that is important is that we are called, we seek, we find, and we obey. God will forgive us if we get some of the particulars wrong so long as we were sincere in our obedience.
Also, to be clear, unlike many Protestants around here I do not consider the Catholic Church to be a dead Church. I do believe faithful Catholics such as yourself to be brothers in Christ, although I do not believe you have the monopoly on truth that you believe yourselves to have. The same goes for the Orthodox. I've spent more than ten years wrestling with these questions and they are not nearly as clean and clear-cut as most people on all sides would like. At the end of the day, we are all going to be right about some matters and we are all going to be wrong about others. I've come to the conclusion, however, that such is not really what Christ is concerned about -- all Christ cares about is that we seek and strive to serve Him in an earnest manner. It is essential to seek out the Truth wherever it may be. It is often folly, however, to assume we have it (beyond the essentials that no orthodox Christians dispute) in full.
YES!!!!! I am filled with the Holy Spirit. Who are you to decide that Catholics are not Christians and are not saved?
Because I am a Christian, I will refrain from judging you (unlike you, who judge me)!
Not judging anyone but I do believe no one who is Spirit-filled would ever stay in the Catholic church.
It goes against everything born again means.
See if this helps.