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.
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!
. . . . AND THE ENCRUSTATIONS AND FOSSILIZATIONS
OF CENTURIES OF HUMAN
OF COURSE IT WAS. I agree thoroughly.
Thank you so much... you have no idea how much that made my day. :)
I might well agree but I’d love for you to elaborate, first.
The Elderberry syrup . . . SAMBUCUS is not cheap . . . by any means . . . but upping the dosage a bit more than directions has helped me a lot.
Some folks have taken to putting oil of oregano from the stopper bottle on their chests etc. And inhaling steaming water with onions in it.
I think the oil of oregano is antibacterial and the elderberry antiviral.
Prayers . . . has been a long haul. Left me far short for the hospice bowl sale as well as my own stuff to sell.
At least I managed to teach all but to classes though many with lowered energy. Sigh.
Prayers, hugs . . .
Darnit, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll keep prayin for you.
It’s been a hard year for a lot of Christians that I know, financial, spiritual, emotional...it’s been hard for a lot of us.
I don’t know if God is testing us, strengthening us, disciplining us or if the times are just turning dark with the lessened light of Christ in the world.
You equivocated on the source of goodness.
If every good work is grace, does that mean that when Hindu feeds the poor he is acting out of grace or that it is not a good work?
Grace. In this instance a common grace God gives to restrain man from utter depravity.
If there were a dishonest man at your church who claimed to be saved but was notoriously dishonest in his dealings would you buy a used car from him rather than from an atheist with a reputation for square dealing?
If he was a notorious sinner who was plagued with continual sin in a specific area then it is the Churches responsibility to counsel the sinner to repent of that particular sin. Whatever secular dealings I might have with him is really irrelevant to his faith and would depend upon many variables including my own knowledge of his secular vocation.
For the rest, every good gift comes from God. The only thing any human can contribute without God's involvement is sin. That is Catholic teaching.
Understood. But we've come to the chicken or the egg question in our discussion.
I love the music from the Vatican.
I’m listening to Christmas music right now, a Gregorian chant, utterly beautiful “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent.”
Ah yes, the man-made error sola fide makes its appearance.
a tinge of man-made TULIP sauce to further poison the palate?
What's TULIP sauce?
Repent of what?
Yes, they did teach us about Holy days of obligation.
However, I am not an American.
The only Holy days of Obligation here are January first and Christmas.
Now tell me how you really feel!
Ha! Love it!
Interesting to observe how each side defends it’s position.
Interesting to observe how each participant interpretes what they have been taught.
I love the process of people communicating the things they feel passionate about.
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
How we answer that question is the only thing that matters.
Thank you for your gracious reply and understanding of the POV which formed the basis of my answers. Yours is a tone to which we can all look as a benchmark, and from which many of us often fall short.
May God bless you during these Advent and Christmas seasons.
“My question surrounds the actuality of salvation for all the millions who still practice Mary worship and so forth.”
Well there ya go, the problem. A false to fact calumny.
I have those shoes! They are NOT comfortable. And not made to wear while holding s squirming two year old in the back of the church (which did not involve any Mary worship)
But dang, they look good on. Which is the only reason why I wear shoes..........
What did Jesus say to the thief on the cross?
"Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23: 43)...
So Mary is the intercessor between Jesus and God and the Savior of the church of Rome...
But when talking to those on the outside, they'll that's not what it means...
However, if the same authorities declare, say, that Mary is the Mother of God, as in fact happened at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, then I must give assent, for defining the Faith in such vein is part of their authentic charism, it is protected from error by the Holy Spirit, and is therefore infallible. The individual men who formulated the definition were all sinners, and therefore not infallible at all regarding their personal conduct. But, within the parameters that are needed to be put in place to make sense of Matthew 28:20, John 16:13-15, and the like, these men exercised "infallibility" in authentically interpreting the true doctrine involved. I would, therefore, be required to give my assent of faith to their decision. And I do. So should you. Perhaps you do already, and you can thank the Council of Ephesus for that. Scripture alone done not answer the question very well regarding issues involving "persons," "natures," "essences" and the like, as they pertain to Jesus. Scripture alone is somewhat ambiguous at, at best. As such, it was a legitimate question to figure out: did Mary give birth to God, or only to Jesus' human nature? "Theotokos" is what they came up with to describe how she fit into the equation: she was the "God-bearer." Amen to that!
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