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.
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
What is this Roman Catholic Church, n00b?
We Proceed thus to the Third Article: It would seem that a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith, can have a lifeless faith in the other articles.
Obj. 1. For the natural intellect of a heretic is not more able than that of a Catholic. Now a Catholic’s intellect needs the aid of the gift of faith in order to believe any article whatever of faith. Therefore it seems that heretics cannot believe any articles of faith without the gift of lifeless faith.
On the contrary, Just as mortal sin is contrary to charity, so is disbelief in one article of faith contrary to faith. Now charity does not remain in a man after one mortal sin. Therefore, neither does faith, after a man disbelieves one article.
I answer that, Neither living nor lifeless faith remains in a heretic who disbelieves one article of faith.
The reason is that the species of every habit depends on the formal aspect of the object, without which the species of the habit cannot remain. Now the formal object of faith is the First Truth, as manifested in Holy Writ and the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth. Consequently whoever does not adhere, as to an infallible and Divine rule, to the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth manifested in Holy Writ, has not the habit of faith, but holds that which is of faith otherwise than by faith. Even so, it is evident that a man whose mind holds a conclusion without knowing how it is proved, has not scientific knowledge, but merely an opinion about it. Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of the faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error. Therefore it is clear that such a heretic with regard to one article has no faith in other articles, but only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will.
Reply Obj. 1. A heretic does not hold the other articles of faith, about which he does not err, in the same way as one of the faithful does, namely by adhering simply to the Divine Truth, because in order to do so, a man needs the help of the habit of faith; but he holds the things that are of faith, by his own will and judgement.
-Summa Theologica, Part II-II, Q. 5, Art. 3
Whether Unbelief Is the Greatest of Sins?
We proceed thus to the Third Article: It would seem that unbelief is not the greatest of sins ...
I answer that, Every sin consists formally in aversion from God (Part I-II, Q. 71, Art. 6; Q. 73, Art. 3). Hence the more a sin severs man from God, the graver it is. Now man is more than ever separated from God by unbelief, because he has not even true knowledge of God: and by false knowledge of God, man does not approach Him, but is severed from Him. Nor is it possible for one who has a false opinion of God, to know Him in any way at all, because the object of the opinion is not God. Therefore it is clear that the sin of unbelief is greater than any sin that occurs in the perversion of morals as we shall state further on (Q. 20, Art. 3; Q. 34, Art. 2, ad 2; Q. 39, Art. 2; ad 3) ...
-Summa Theologica, Part II-II, Q. 10, Art. 3
You get three guesses for a quarter. Good luck next time.
Oh, and Catholic Church is a proper noun: both words should be capitalized.
What is the man-made false traditions of sola fide and TULIP?
What is they?
I presume you mean "what are they?"
The answer, of course, is "false traditions of men."
Great cut-and-paste, n00b.
What’s your point?
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
Let me amend my remark then. The gentleman’s comments and his (tacitly professed) faith in the New Testament as a reliable statement of dogmatic teaching ... are self-contradictory.
I'm sorry if you don't believe him.
The praises heaped upon the Blessed Mother by we Catholics go far beyond simply asking for prayers. They are a form of worship (and so is praise heaped upon the rest of the cloud of saints and angels), they simply are not equal in any way to the worship owed and given to Almighty God.
We even have terms for this - dulia - the worship given the saints - and latria - the worship given to Almighty God. Dulia is also extended to sacred persons who are living - we show this by genuflecting before a Bishop or Royalty, the reverential attention given to a judge and his commands, and of course, the respect owed to our elders and parents.
Dulia = piety, latria = adoration.
I know this is very complex for an American Protestant, involving as it does words in foreign languages.
No they are not, "pretend Catholic."
What is they?...I presume you mean "what are they?"
Opps! I think you misread my question. I didn't write, "what is they", I wrote, "what is the...
Here, let me put it in a way you might be able to understand.
What is the [man-made false traditions of sola fide and TULIP]?
Everything within the brackets is included in the set.
So when you answer, "false traditions of man", you've just repeated yourself and have not answered the question.
I hope that helps.
A festering gob of protestant falsehood.
That if you were honest to Gamecock, you would admit that he is right. The Catholic Church does not teach that Protestants are saved, or that Protestantism is the way of salvation. Quite the opposite, and very vocally.
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.
The respondent does nothing to rebuke this bizarre claim.
BTW, I thought the usual charge was that Catholics thought they saved themselves.
Now here I find out that really, we are all supposed to think that the Church saves us.
I will continue to be the oddball and insist that God is the real responsible party, and pretty much everything else is either an instrument or an achievement, or both, of his.
You can go ahead and tell your friend the Pope, and he can excommunicate me for believing something so "un-Catholic". I'll be waiting for the letter.
Do you mean that, by supplementing your ghastly grammar with borrowed BOOLEAN semantics, you might be able to cover over your previous, unintelligible post?
Yes, I agree, you might be able to do that.
Wow. So, in your estimation, either I agree with Gamecock or I'm lying?
The Catholic Church does not teach that Protestants are saved, or that Protestantism is the way of salvation. Quite the opposite, and very vocally.