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Can Catholics Be Christians?
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church ^

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.

Answer:

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.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian
KEYWORDS: agendadrivenfreeper; asininequestion; bigot; bigotry; catholic; christian; chrsitian; demolitionderby; gamecockbravosierra; ignoranceisbliss; opc; presbyterian; reformed
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To: Gamecock

Anyone who so much as gives a cup of water in My name will have his reward.

The Boss.


101 posted on 12/08/2009 12:39:18 PM PST by Jim Noble (Hu's the communist?)
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To: Petronski
Now you switch to the abuse, knowing you let a hint of your respect for me slip.

“Dear” is a fairly common salutation used in correspondence. I know of someone who recently wrote both their US Senators and their US Representative. All three are liberals. Nonetheless, each was addressed as “dear.”

Thus, it’s hardly a term of abuse, error, fraud or lie, but merely a matter of preferred etiquette. Another valuable effect of this minor social grace is that it should serve as a reminder to try to write charitably to each other.

102 posted on 12/08/2009 12:41:02 PM PST by Alex Murphy ("Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - Job 13:15)
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To: Petronski

Thanks for putting my quote back up. I suppose it makes sense that the religion mod is more touchy about coarse language.


103 posted on 12/08/2009 12:41:12 PM PST by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: Theo

What part of “Eternal Life” don’t you get?


104 posted on 12/08/2009 12:42:42 PM PST by netmilsmom (I am Ilk)
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To: Gamecock

It’s kinda funny, in a sad sort of way, to watch the Romanist as they defend there Church as the supreme good fail to realize that it is a rejection of the Gospel.


105 posted on 12/08/2009 12:43:12 PM PST by the_conscience (I'm a bigot: Against Jihadists and those who support despotism of any kind.)
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To: Alex Murphy
“Dear” is a fairly common salutation used in correspondence.

Stop hitting on me. It's unwelcome and really rather creepy.

106 posted on 12/08/2009 12:43:25 PM PST by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Gamecock

Anyone can be a Christian by believing and accepting Christ as their savior. Religion is religion, but a personal relationship with Christ is all it takes to be a Christian.


107 posted on 12/08/2009 12:44:13 PM PST by Halls (Jesus is my Lord and Savior)
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To: Petronski

>>The tea kettle in that picture is brown.<<

*snicker*


108 posted on 12/08/2009 12:44:18 PM PST by netmilsmom (I am Ilk)
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To: the_conscience

Did you post to the wrong thread?

LOL


109 posted on 12/08/2009 12:44:26 PM PST by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: netmilsmom

Sometimes, it’s the little things.


110 posted on 12/08/2009 12:45:11 PM PST by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Petronski

“Didn’t you know? Christians are judged by God, but Catholics are judged by Calvin.”

ROTFL!


111 posted on 12/08/2009 12:45:54 PM PST by OpusatFR (Tagline not State Approved. Thoughts not State Approved. Actions not State Approved)
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To: Halls

>>Religion is religion, but a personal relationship with Christ is all it takes to be a Christian.<<

Merry Christmas Halls!!!!
You’re a wonderful FReeper and a great Christian.


112 posted on 12/08/2009 12:46:37 PM PST by netmilsmom (I am Ilk)
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To: Petronski

Absolutely!


113 posted on 12/08/2009 12:47:21 PM PST by netmilsmom (I am Ilk)
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To: Gamecock

A better question is can you be a Christian outside the Catholic Church.


114 posted on 12/08/2009 12:49:45 PM PST by Reaganez
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To: Hegewisch Dupa
But she’s dead, unable to hear all the prayers sent her way.

So what radio stations do they they get in heaven?

Do you actually seek to limit God, or suppose that He can be limited? Do you not suppose that it is within His power to allow those in Heaven the ability to hear when people still on this mortal coil address them? You might not agree that He does, but your statement appears to indicate that you do not think that He can.

You might want to read Revelation 5 from the POV that those in Heaven not only know what is going on on the earth, but receive prayers coming from us and present them to God. I won't tell you which verses support that; I'm sure you can be open-minded enough to figure them out for yourself.

115 posted on 12/08/2009 12:50:46 PM PST by magisterium
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To: mnehring

Actually, us Catholics have much respect and admiration for the Anglicans. What we hate are the fundamentalists that either interpret the bible literally or think they can interpret the bible their own way with no historical or theological basis. There is not much difference between the Anglicans, the Catholics, the Lutherens and the Greeks other than the structure of the respective churches. I have always said if I wasn’t Catholic, I’d be Episcopal. A lot of respect and cohesion between the two, at least in my community.


116 posted on 12/08/2009 12:51:25 PM PST by wolfman23601
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To: Petronski

117 posted on 12/08/2009 12:53:52 PM PST by the_conscience (I'm a bigot: Against Jihadists and those who support despotism of any kind.)
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To: magisterium

Hey, no - not me. I was commenting on the absurdity of another post that seemed to presume that heavenly souls can’t hear prayers, that’s all.


118 posted on 12/08/2009 12:55:12 PM PST by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: Petronski
Did you skip the part about greater hope for salvation for ignorant Catholics who just follow orders than those who actually understand the faith and remain in it?

With all due respect, I think that the author was referring to individuals who are aware of the differences between Catholics and Protestants and still insist upon being Catholic contrary to their conscience. (I am not saying here that someone would NECESSARILY have a conscientious objection, but merely that it is what the author seems to believe)

As a Catholic you most certainly believe this about Protestants. The Catechism of the Catholic Church allows for "Invincible Ignorance":

1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.

This reflects what the author was saying in regards to faithful Catholics who do not question their beliefs. It's the same statement but flipped as it is coming from a Protestant applying it to Catholics instead of the other way around.

The Catechism also states:

1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin." In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

It stands to reason that, from a Catholic point of view, a Protestant who has taken the time to examine what the Catholic Church teaches, understands the reasons it teaches such, and refuses to be a part of her is culpable of mortal sin and places his or her salvation at risk. That education has dispelled all appeals for claims for ignorance. This is exactly what the author was stating, albeit from a Protestant point of view.

Respectfully, it does little good to be indignant about a Protestant teaching the same thing regarding Catholics that the Catholic Church teaches regarding Protestants. The author left the door open for individual Catholics to be saved in exactly the same manner that the Catholic Church leaves it open for Protestants to be saved. It's the same reasoning albeit applied from a different point of view.

119 posted on 12/08/2009 12:55:19 PM PST by MWS
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To: the_conscience

Still out of ideas?

I understand.


120 posted on 12/08/2009 12:55:22 PM PST by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Gamecock

What utter bull excrement. I became a Catholic 8 years ago partially because of bull excrement like this. A very good argument could be made that to be a Christian one would have to be a Catholic.


121 posted on 12/08/2009 12:55:28 PM PST by Rum Tum Tugger
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To: Petronski; sitetest; Quix
Stop hitting on me. It's unwelcome and really rather creepy.

You might want to tell sitetest that you think he's been "hitting" on Quix. I was just borrowing his explanation.

122 posted on 12/08/2009 12:56:36 PM PST by Alex Murphy ("Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - Job 13:15)
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im still trying to figure out how, and i have yet to hear any refutation or true response, as to how modern day protestants of any stripe, can claim the bible as the sole rule of faith, and continue to use it and claim all these catholic claims are bogus.

I mean, come on, 2000 years ago, before there was any complete bible, there were the apostles, who appointed their successors and bishops who appointed priests who went out with NO BIBLE and preached the gospel.

These people WALKED AND TALKED WITH THE APOSTLES, AND THEIR RIGHTFUL SUCCESSORS, and aligned with Rome on all matters in dispute....showing no inclination toward sola scriptura (those that leaned that way were those who came up with the heresies the papacy had to put down)

How do you modern protestants have the arrogance to claim you and your edited 66 books only bible, claim superior knowledge of the word of God over those that were there? those that walked and talked and WERE TAUGHT BY THE APOSTLES, THEIR SUCCESSORS AND THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH?


123 posted on 12/08/2009 12:56:56 PM PST by raygunfan
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To: Rum Tum Tugger
Reposted in conformity with RF rules:

What utter falsehood. I became a Catholic 8 years ago partially because of falsehood like this. A very good argument could be made that to be a Christian one would have to be a Catholic.

I thinks conforms also to the tenor of your meaning, yes?

124 posted on 12/08/2009 12:57:01 PM PST by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Gamecock

For the sake of 1500 years of Catholics prior to the Reformation I hope so. Do you think that Martin Luther finally figured it out?


125 posted on 12/08/2009 12:57:05 PM PST by AZConcervative (Yes, I know it is misspelled, the correct spelling was taken...)
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To: Theo

apparently your knowledge of the Assumption of Mary’s Body into Heaven is scanty.

Apostles were transported from around the world to her bedside to witness her dormition and eventually being carried to heaven by angels.

I know you don’t believe it, but if you do enough digging you will find the quotes with the Early Church Fathers.

PS. What will you say to the Blessed Virgin Mary upon the moment of your death and you find out that you didn’t believe?


126 posted on 12/08/2009 12:58:30 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Ann Archy

The first Christian was Christ who was a Jew to get picky. To believe that Christ was the Son of God is my basic belief in Salvation. I don’t know what name to call myself.


127 posted on 12/08/2009 12:59:13 PM PST by mountainlion (concerned conservative.)
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To: AZConcervative

“For the sake of 1500 years of Catholics prior to the Reformation I hope so. Do you think that Martin Luther finally figured it out?:

So you believe the Holy Spirit went MIA until Luther?

LOL!


128 posted on 12/08/2009 12:59:33 PM PST by OpusatFR (Tagline not State Approved. Thoughts not State Approved. Actions not State Approved)
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To: Alex Murphy
Perhaps sitetest can decide on his own if the use of that term by Quix is innocent or creepy.

Any other “big Perry Mason gotcha moments” there, or is that all you prepared for today?

129 posted on 12/08/2009 12:59:42 PM PST by Petronski (In Germany they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist...)
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To: Theo

One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Can you say that about your church?

Facts, Friend, Facts!


130 posted on 12/08/2009 12:59:42 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: netmilsmom

Thanks. Merry Christmas to you as well! :)


131 posted on 12/08/2009 12:59:56 PM PST by Halls (Jesus is my Lord and Savior)
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To: SnakeDoctor
...and thus believe that the Catholic church departed from Christianity in some respects in the interim.

So there is an objective standard for "Christianity," from which one can depart? Good! Please point-out for us which group of Christians, known in the historical record, practiced, in your opinion, the full and error-free "Christianity" available after the death of the last Apostle and before October 31, 1517. No hodge-podge of denominations or mixing and matching between centuries, please. One group, evidently, was the banner- or reference-standard all of these centuries, if, in fact, "Christianity" is internally defined in a palpable way as you indicate. So, which group would that be, shown to have continuous existence from A.D. 33 and able to transmit the one and only, authentic "Christianity"?

132 posted on 12/08/2009 1:00:19 PM PST by magisterium
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To: Antoninus

Amen!


133 posted on 12/08/2009 1:02:32 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: MWS

We’re all probably going to be surprised to learn with whom we have to share heaven. Frightening, isn’t it?


134 posted on 12/08/2009 1:02:56 PM PST by Happyinmygarden (Yes, actually, I have pretty much seen and heard it all before...)
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To: joe fonebone

Without the Authority and Infallibility of the Catholic church given by the Holy Spirit there would be no Bible. If the Catholic church was fallible the the Bible is not worth the paper it is printed on.
Because the Protestant do not have this Authority they can take books(Luther) or add books(LDS) to Holy Scripture

(Note not everything the Catholic Church does is infallible it is only on Faith and Morals that the authority to declare infallible exists)


135 posted on 12/08/2009 1:04:23 PM PST by jroneil (2010 is all that matter now!)
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To: Salvation
What will you say to the Blessed Virgin Mary upon the moment of your death and you find out that you didn’t believe?

Otherwise known as the "step on a crack" apologetic....


136 posted on 12/08/2009 1:04:41 PM PST by Alex Murphy ("Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - Job 13:15)
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To: Alex Murphy; Dr. Eckleburg

Wow!

141 posts in just over 2 hours. That must be close to a record!


137 posted on 12/08/2009 1:05:27 PM PST by Gamecock
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To: Happyinmygarden

As a Christian, I for one hope for the salvation of all who live in good faith.

Except for the Amish. Amish guy stole my car once. I don’t trust them. :^)


138 posted on 12/08/2009 1:07:28 PM PST by MWS
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To: Rum Tum Tugger

***I became a Catholic 8 years ago partially because of bull excrement like this.***

That’s an interesting reason to join a religion.

I became a Christian because it’s true, not because non-adherents didn’t agree with it.


139 posted on 12/08/2009 1:08:12 PM PST by Gamecock
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To: wolfman23601
There is not much difference between the Anglicans, the Catholics, the Lutherens

Don't know about Lutherens (sic)but there is for non-elcan Lutherans.

140 posted on 12/08/2009 1:08:16 PM PST by xone
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To: Hegewisch Dupa; Theo
Oh. Sorry. I'll redirect my query to Theo then.

Theo, I am responding in post 115 to your post 50.

141 posted on 12/08/2009 1:08:43 PM PST by magisterium
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To: Gamecock

With an incendiary title like the one heading this thread, why would you suppose anything different?


142 posted on 12/08/2009 1:10:13 PM PST by magisterium
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To: faucetman

It was in the first paragraph and I as a Catholic figured the rest of it would be Catholic bashing didn’t bother to read the rest, especially since I know the tendencies of the poster.


143 posted on 12/08/2009 1:10:14 PM PST by tiki (True Christians will not deliberately slander or misrepresent others or their beliefs)
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To: wolfman23601
Actually, us Catholics have much respect and admiration for the Anglicans.

I know, we just seem to be somewhat in the middle of all these fights, with some uniquely Protastant theological differences but liturgically and traditionally more Catholic in practice. After we all got over that whole King Henry thing, we seemed to get along well (not counting the Irish, but they are another story..) :->

144 posted on 12/08/2009 1:10:21 PM PST by mnehring
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To: Reaganez

***A better question is can you be a Christian outside the Catholic Church.***

Even more so!


145 posted on 12/08/2009 1:10:39 PM PST by Gamecock
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To: magisterium

+1


146 posted on 12/08/2009 1:12:37 PM PST by mnehring
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To: SnakeDoctor
Yes. The big difference is ecclesiology (at least in this question.) On the one hand we have the "invisible" church notion. It's kind of Platonic, I guess. If I can say it properly, there are all these groups, identifiable by customs, administration, blah blah. We loosely call them churches and denominations and such. And Baptists are kind of a meta group, as are, in this view, Catholics. And SOME members of these groups are in the REAL and invisible Church. Our side is more Aristotelian. We say that there is one thorough or complete instantiation of Churchness and it comprises all the saints in heaven, those in purgatory, and all the Baptized on earth. BUT the "fullness" of Church subsists in those in communion with the bishop of Rome - NOT because he's in Rome but because he is, we think, the successor of Peter.

And this fullness does not in itself prevent various individuals from being dopes and sinners, including the occasional (or even frequent) dope and sinner who becomes Pope. But if you look (we'd say) not at the individual but at the teaching, the sacraments, blah blah, of what for shorthand I will call "Rome" you'd be looking at the real deal. So we have "wheat and tares together sown" and separated at the harvest. And the other view has wheat and tares sort of physically or phenomenologically together, but not REALLY together. Or that's the best I can do. All this is me just trying to get to an objective presentation of the difference in view, NOT to persuade or argue. My wife also thinks I talk too much.

147 posted on 12/08/2009 1:13:14 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: xone
Don't know about Lutherens (sic)but there is for non-elcan Lutherans.

"non-elcan Lutherans"? I find it more direct just to call them sodomy and non-sodomy denominations.

148 posted on 12/08/2009 1:13:25 PM PST by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: Salvation

Yes, you’re right, I don’t believe that fairy tale. I trust in the words of Scripture. If something as remarkable as Mary’s Assumption into Heaven were true, it would have been referenced by those penning the words of Scripture.

I’ll say “Hi” to Jesus’ mom when I see her. She’ll say “Hi” back, I’m pretty sure, and then will introduce me to the other children she begat.


149 posted on 12/08/2009 1:14:11 PM PST by Theo (May Rome decrease and Christ increase.)
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To: wolfman23601
There is not much difference between the Anglicans, the Catholics, the Lutherens and the Greeks other than the structure of the respective churches.

Speaking as an Anglican who is familiar with the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, there are quite a few more differences in theology beyond ecclesiastical structure than initially present themselves between the three, even among conservatives. That is part of the reason why most conservative Episcopalians aren't quick to jump ship and join one of those bodies.

150 posted on 12/08/2009 1:14:13 PM PST by MWS
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