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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.


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: Quix
"...keenly aware that a number of the more rabid types hereon seem to be unable to fathom disagreeing stridently and even fiercely with someone re theological etc. matters.."

In the end...the hate is not about Christ, it's about much more practical man's personal power.

281 posted on 12/08/2009 6:05:46 PM PST by Earthdweller (Harvard won the election what's the problem.......?)
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To: magisterium

That church — Christ’s church — is the Christian church, not the Catholic church. It is my church, and your church. As believers and followers of Christ, we can both rightly claim to be members of the body of Christ.

Like I said, lineage doesn’t make a difference to me, as we both trace the origin of our faith to the same point. We divided, but our origins and lineage are the same to the point of division. One can dispute, I suppose, whether the division was a heresy or a divinely inspired separation ... but I would claim the latter.

I cannot believe in the infallibility of any human being or human organization, as it conflicts with the established doctrine of original sin. Humans are inherently fallible, and no Biblical passage gives me reason to believe that any infallibility rests in a man or a hierarchy. Such would be putting faith in a man or group of men rather than the Almighty.


282 posted on 12/08/2009 6:07:09 PM PST by SnakeDoctor ("Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much." -- John Wayne)
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To: bonfire; Petronski; NYer; Kolokotronis; kosta50; Mad Dawg; vladimir998; MarkBsnr; Salvation; ...
Bonfire, this is not addressed to you (but I am leaving you on here as a courtesy since I am quoting part of your post)

“The Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and savior of the people of Rome, intercede to God for us so that the face of his blessed Son may be shown to our Pope and comfort the Church with the light of the resurrection.”

Interesting story behind that expression "Savior of the people of Rome."

It actually applies to an icon that is located at Santa Maria Maggiore (Salus Populi Romani):

The story behind it (and, as with so many things back then, I can't 100% vouch for what is real and what is legend) is that this icon was written by St. Luke

"The origin of "Luke images" is unknown, but a charming legend has prevailed through the ages. It reveals that after the Crucifixion, when Our Lady moved to the home of St. John, she took with her a few personal belongings--among which was a table built by the Redeemer in the workshop of St. Joseph. When pious virgins of Jerusalem prevailed upon St. Luke to paint a portrait of the Mother of God, it was the top of this table that was used to memorialize her image. While applying his brush and paints, St. Luke listened carefully as the Mother of Jesus spoke of the life of her son, facts which the Evangelist later recorded in his Gospel.

"Legend also tells us that the painting remained in and around Jerusalem until it was discovered by St. Helena in the fourth century. Together with other sacred relics, the painting was transported to Constantinople where her son, Emperor Constantine the Great, erected a church for its enthronement."

(Joan Carroll Cruz, Miraculous Images of Our Lady, 1993, p. 137f.)

Cruz continues recounting of this story with how the relic was named:

During the pontificate of St. Gregory the Great (590-604) a plague viciously attacked the people of Rome, killing entire families. The pontiff fervently prayed to the Blessed Mother. During the Easter festivals he carried her image in solemn procession. Arriving at Hadrian's Mausoleum (now called San Angelo), an angelic choir was heard singing the joyful Resurrection hymn:

Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia;
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia;
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.

Without hesitation, the holy Pontiff added:
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

[Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia; for he whom you did merit to bear, alleluia; has risen as he said, alleluia; pray for us to God, alleluia.]
After the Pontiff spoke these words there appeared above Hadrian's Mausoleum an angel, believed to be St. Michael, who replaced in his scabbard the sword of vengeance which he had held over the city.

Basically, that is how this icon got the name "Salus Populi Romani" and how Hadrian's Mausoleum got the name "Castel Sant'Angelo"

283 posted on 12/08/2009 6:10:58 PM PST by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: bonfire
I pretty much rest my case. Usually when we pray the Rosary we sing or recite a medieval "antiphon" to Mary, the Salve Regina. In it we call her "our Life, Sweetness, and Hope," Many Dominicans at the end of bedtime prayers not only recite or sing the Salve Regina but the "O Lumen," an antiphon to Dominic which will here give in it's entirety ('cause it's short)
O lumen ecclesiae O light of the Church,
Doctor veritatis Teacher of the truth,
Rosa patientiae Rose of patience,
Ebur castitatis Ivory of chastity,
Aquam sapientiae
Propinasti gratis
You freely dispensed
the water of wisdom.
Praedicator gratiae Preacher of grace,
Nos junge beatis. Unite us with the blessed.
Now, how do I justify such extravagant stuff? First because I know what I'm doing and second because this happens in a context in which the Mass and Other daily prayers which are NOT Marian are, the foundation and principle theme.

I know whom I have believed, and knowing that, I am fine with extravagant praises to Mary and to Dominic.

Now if such devotions were the principle part of someone's piety, I'd be concerned. If PapaBenXVI or anyone else were going daily or even weekly to Pompeii and praying this kind of thing, I'd be concerned.

But I'm not concerned for PapaBen or for myself as I heap piles of florid praise on Mary and on Dominic for all the reasons I said.

And I would say to get a proper view of this amazing service, you too would have to view it in the experiential context of daily office, rosary, and Mass. Otherwise I can quite understand how weirdly repellent it looks. Remember, I am a convert. This stuff used to freak me out too.

284 posted on 12/08/2009 6:18:57 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Gamecock

I have never claimed that non Catholics are lost. However I take exception to the original post and am quite sure the author was never Catholic. Oh and his bit about being allowed to say something from the pulpit at a Catholic funeral? Pure invention.

285 posted on 12/08/2009 6:19:17 PM PST by lastchance (Hug your babies.)
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To: WestwardHo; Alamo-Girl; airborne; Amityschild; AngieGal; aragorn; auggy; autumnraine; backhoe; ...

I love those images.

Congrats to both of you.

I’m, I like to think, close Friends and Brothers to several of the RC’s hereon. I won’t embarrass them by naming them. I think they know who they are.

And, I occasionally respond warmly to some of the rabid folks who typically throw me only mean-spirited fiercely bitterness dripping bile.

Some of the rabid folks beg for being tweaked . . . their self-righteousness, arrogance, smugness, the theologically degreed and well trained, the pontifically self-important, etc. etc. etc. just beg to be tweaked. And, I confess, I’m frequently happy to oblige.

Have been telling it like it is to spiritual leaders, internationally known evangelists, internationally known prophetic types, etc. for many decades. They rarely seemed to appreciate the feedback either! LOL. Though they did typically eventually get the point when God followed through accordingly.

No point in stopping now.

Some of the rabid folks are boringly predictable. Their buttons are hard-wired to hair-trigger fire-works explosions of puffery.

Some are just soooooooooooooooooooooooo utterly convinced that THEIR pristine, pure, paragonly perfect construction on reality is the ONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNLY CORRECT ONE that anything LESS, in their view, is automatically cause for instant and intense frothing at the fingers in response.

I don’t know if those folks are funnier for their super silliness or distressingly pathetic. Perhaps all of the above.

Some are soooooooo mean spirited and fiercely filled with bitterness, bile and multiple thread-stalking vengeance, that I’m having to increasingly write them off as too boring, too beyond the pale or just toooooo off the wall to even think of risking contributing to their finger frothing sins by responding at all.

In any case, the tableu of human variety stirred vigorously with RELIGION hereon . . . is certainly an education in psychology and sociology.

Occasionally one learns some worthwhile things about theology.


In terms of Roman Catholics/ Vatican affiliated folks being able to be Christians?


I think the gauntlet they have to run to establish and maintain a GOD FOCUSED RELATIONSHIP in that context has to be a lot more troublesome and difficult than in the best Protestant congregations. However, many Protestant congregations are ABOUT as bad on such scores.

286 posted on 12/08/2009 6:20:10 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS
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To: markomalley

Awesome historical account. Thank you for including me on the ping.

287 posted on 12/08/2009 6:20:59 PM PST by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone" - Benedict XVI)
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To: Sir_Ed

T’anks, bro in Christ.

Big pain not only in the chest but in a region somewhat south of there, IMHO.

288 posted on 12/08/2009 6:21:16 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg

Likewise any Christians or nonChristian onlookers on my demonstrations’ account.


A big CHRISTmas hug and kiss—uhh—on the neck or cheek,, mind you!

Greet the Brothers with a Holy . . .

anyway . . . you know.


289 posted on 12/08/2009 6:22:52 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS
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To: markomalley

WHen I lie dying, I want the regina coeli sung. I LOVE the resurrexit/ sicut dixit. I always want to add: So THERE!

290 posted on 12/08/2009 6:23:06 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: netmilsmom

The Solas . . . though I’m not a Calvinist . . . are Infinitely more clearly Scriptural than ANY of the Marian stuff! LOL.

291 posted on 12/08/2009 6:24:25 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS
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To: netmilsmom

Salus, honor, virtus quoque,
sit et benedictio ...

Salus, like Shalom, is a word rich in nuance. I don’t health is so bad for either word, though I like to keep things simple myself.

292 posted on 12/08/2009 6:25:20 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Petronski
FACTS like these, drove ME crazy, or perhaps drove me sane

Sub tuum praesidium or, in English, Under your protection is the oldest anthem to the Blessed Virgin Mary from the see of Alexandria in the third century.

Liturgically, the anthem is among those recited as the "final antiphon" at the office of compline. The Latin is presented below, followed by the English.

''Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, :''Sancta Dei Genetrix. :''Nostras deprecationes ne despicias :''in necessitatibus nostris, :''sed a periculis cunctis:''libera nos semper, :''Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

We fly to thy patronage, :O holy Mother of God; :despise not our petitions:in our necessities, :but deliver us always:from all dangers, :O glorious and blessed Virgin. :Amen.

From here

293 posted on 12/08/2009 6:26:34 PM PST by don-o (My son, Ben - Marine Lance Corporal is in Iraq.)
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To: Mad Dawg

Now Bro, I can’t let even you get away Scott free with such abject leaps of logic.

tsk tsk.

294 posted on 12/08/2009 6:26:42 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS
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To: Quix

Be good, stay safe, D00d.

I think i got the crud you had, was it last year. Lung stuff that just holds on and won’t turn me loose.

Prayers and bed for me. A HOLY kiss is a good thing.

295 posted on 12/08/2009 6:27:50 PM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Lorica

What? You think ALL the fireworks should be limited to July?

What a boring notion! LOL.

296 posted on 12/08/2009 6:28:35 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS
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To: sitetest

Soooooooooooooo oh expert on


how did you mean it not too many posts ago, to me?

297 posted on 12/08/2009 6:31:19 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS
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To: Iscool


Horrifically true.

298 posted on 12/08/2009 6:33:31 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS
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To: magisterium

I found nothing offensive in what you wrote. Of course, I asked the question.

In general, I expect people to defend their own faith. And I would think that people believe that their faith is correct.

In fact, in this discussion, I felt like people were too quick to be disturbed, although I understood it. But if I read a title “Can Presbyterians be Christians”, I wouldn’t think “Oh no, someone thinks I’m not a Christian”, I would say “Oh, I can see how someone of another belief system feels about my belief system”.

So instead of being upset, I would welcome the opportunity to see how other denominations think about my faith, rather than get upset about what they believe. After all, I don’t believe that other denomination has their beliefs correct, so why would I think their beliefs about my denomination would be correct?

So I asked my questions, because I wanted to see how some of those participating in this discussion would address a different faith from their faith’s perspective. You did a wonderful job. As did others who responded to me, I read them all even though I didn’t answer them.

I hope those who participated will have read these responses, and realised that talking about other faiths from your perspective will of necessity sound somewhat judgmental, or something like that, and try to take it in the spirit of ecumenicalism, rather than as an attack on their faith.

299 posted on 12/08/2009 6:36:22 PM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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You clearly have an extra measure of God’s Grace to be able to so convincingly own such a perspective.

Blessings to you and yours this CHRISTmas season.

300 posted on 12/08/2009 6:36:37 PM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS
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