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.
Repent of them. Turn to Christ and the Church He founded for us.
The number of those who disagree is vanishingly small.
Since “outside the Church there is absolutely no salvation” perhaps the better question is whether or not someone consciously living apart from the unity of the Catholic Church, say an ex-Catholic “Orthodox Presbyterian”, or an agressive anti-Catholic Protestant, can get to heaven.
Personally, I don’t see it happening.
Your grandfather was a Calvinist?
We must believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church. Hence they who are out of our Church, or separated, cannot be saved, except infants who die after baptism.
-St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Instructions on the Commandments and Sacraments, pt. 1, sec. 1, n. 10
“We both know that your church finds its home in Rome.”
You are clueless. To help let me lend you one, look up “Cathedral”. Note what it means. A resident of Rome has a Church home in Rome. No one else.
Mary was a special woman, a chosen vessel through whom the Messiah would come. But she's dead
Scripture says that Jesus has destroyed death.
Jesus himself said that those who believe in him shall never die.
I'm sorry you don't believe him.
Q. Have Protestants any faith in Christ?
A. They never had.
Q. Why not?
A. Because there never lived any such a Christ as they imagine and believe in.
Q. In what kind of Christ to they believe?
A. In such a one whom they can make a liar with impunity, whose doctrines they can interpret as they please, and who does not care what a man believes, provided he be an honest man before the public.
Q. Will such a faith in such a Christ save Protestants?
A. No sensible man will assert such an absurdity.
Q. What will Christ say to them on the day of judgement?
A. I know you not, because you never knew me.
Q. Are Protestants willing to confess their sins to a Catholic bishop or priest, who alone has power from Christ to forgive sins? “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them.”
A. No; for they generally have an utter aversion to confession, and therefore their sins will not be forgiven them throughout all eternity.
Q. What follows from this?
A. That they die in their sins and are damned.
Q. But is it not a very uncharitable doctrine to say that no one can be saved out of the Church?
A. On the contrary, it is a very great act of charity to assert most emphatically, that out of the Catholic Church there is no salvation possible; for Jesus Christ and His Apostles have taught this doctrine in very plain language.
-Fr. Michael Mueller, CSsR, “Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine”
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.
Stop calling other Freepers names, e.g. shill, pretend Catholic, n00b.
Possibly something you want no part of through your defensiveness here concerning our Church.
With our hearts we believe and with our lips we profess but one Church, not that of heretics, but the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which we believe that no one is saved.
-Profession of Faith for the Waldensians, 1208
Waldensians = Proto-Calvinists. I'm sure Gamecock and Co. would be more than happy to claim them as fellow believers.
Catholics should defend the faith and Holy Mother Church. Not be defensive about them.
You know, you’re right. I needn’t exert myself on a point so obvious.
I’ll save my energy. Thanks.
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
Your claims to be Catholic are laughable.
Can Christians be Christians?
I'd think so. Maybe even some snake handlers could be Christians. But some posters can and do in fact go well out of their way to prove themselves to be total bigoted idiots that don't have a clue beyond their own obsessions.
Kind of like the Talaban, without the IEDs -- so far.
This brand-new Catholic poster's authenticity is beyond reproach!
This brand-new Catholic poster's authenticity is beyond reproach!
Q 12. Can we be saved in every religion? A. No, we can only be saved in the religion that Jesus Christ has taught. Q. 13. Where do we find this religion of Jesus Christ? A. We find it in the Roman Catholic Church. St. John Nepomuk Neumann, CSsR, Bishop of Philadelphia, Small Catechism of the Christian Religion
This really isn't open to a whole lot of interpretation and semantics, much as many in America would like it to be.
You know how zealously Our predecessors taught that very article of faith which these dare to deny, namely the necessity of the Catholic faith and of unity for salvation. The words of that celebrated disciple of the Apostles, martyred Saint Ignatius, in his letter to the Philadelphians are relevant to this matter: "Be not deceived, my brother; if anyone follows a schismatic, he will not attain the inheritance of the kingdom of God." Moreover, Saint Augustine and the other African bishops who met in the Council of Cirta in the year 412 explained the same thing at greater length: "Whoever has separated himself from the Catholic Church, no matter how laudably he lives, will not have eternal life, but has earned the anger of God because of this one crime: that he abandoned his union with Christ" (Epsitle 141). Omitting other appropriate passages which are almost numberless in the writings of the Fathers, We shall praise Saint Gregory the Great, who expressly testifies that this is indeed the teaching of the Catholic Church. He says: "The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved" (Moral. in Job, 16.5). Official acts of the Church proclaim the same dogma. Thus, in the decree on faith which Innocent III published with the synod of the Lateran IV, these things are written: "There is one universal Church of the faithful outside of which no one at all is saved." Finally, the same dogma is expressly mentioned in the profession of faith proposed by the Apostolic See, not only that which all Latin churches use (Creed of the Council of Trent), but also that which the Greek Orthodox Church uses (cf. Gregory XIII, Profession "Sanctissimus") and that which other Eastern Catholics use (cf. Benedict XIV, Profession "Nuper ad Nos") ... We are so concerned about this serious and well known dogma, which has been attacked with such remarkable audacity, that We could not restrain Our pen from reinforcing this truth with many testimonies. Strive to eradicate these slithering errors with all your strength. Inspire the populace of Bavaria to keep the Catholic faith and unity as the only way of salvation with an ever more ardent zeal, and thus, to avoid every danger of forsaking it. -Pope Gregory XIV, Encyclical Summo Jugiter Studio, 5-6, 27 May 1832
This is quite false. Why don't you let real Catholics explain Catholic teaching? I find it rather patronizing when people tell me I believe something I don't, although I have probably read more Catholic theology than 99% of Protestant ministers, to say nothing of Protestant laymen.
The bottom line is, you are judged on the response to the graces and helps to salvation you are given, and your response to those graces and helps. The Gospels state that clearly in a couple of places.
If you are given the grace to understand that the Catholic Church was founded by Christ as the instrument of man's salvation, and that unity with her is directly willed by God ... but you choose to go to First Baptist because you like the choir there more, and besides, you can chat with Aunt Betsy after the service on Sundays, that is a grave sin which can send you to hell. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, if you want to look it up. The teaching has a pedigree back to Augustine and even farther.)
If you aren't given that grace, or if factors beyond your control make it impossible for you to respond to it, your subjective culpability is lessened. It may be lessened to zero.
The Catholic Church dogmatically, infallibly says that canonized saints are in heaven. It has never dogmatically, or even authoritatively taught than any human being is in hell. Not Luther, not Calvin, not Thomas Jefferson, not Ted Bundy ... there is, I admit, some debate about Judas Iscariot.
Since we don't know that they're in hell, they could be in purgatory on their way to heaven, or already there. So it's absolutely the case that some Protestants could be saved, or many, or all.
I’ll go right away to my parish then, and make sure my pastor isn’t laughing at me. I’d hate for that to happen.
Have you nothing better to do?
Of course you will.
If you are a faithful Catholic, then read the response of the Holy Office in the matter of Fr. Feeney for starters. Re-read Lumen Gentium. Also please see Pio Nono's discussion of "invincible ignorance" (people find the term objectionable, but it is technically correct). I can get you the reference if you need it.
There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. That much is absolutely true.
That is not the same thing as saying that only those who profess Catholicism on earth can be saved. In fact, Fr. Feeney said that his ordinary was a heretic for not believing that it was the same thing, and was disciplined by the Holy Office under Pope Pius XII for saying that.
I don't think you want to accuse Pio Nono and Pius XII of teaching heresy, do you?
Do you mean "outwardly" or "quietly?"
“Catholics are the ORIGINAL CHRISTIANS!”
And, as it was interestingly put to me today: our Lord Jesus Christ was the first convert from Judaism to Catholicism.
Not sure how that holds up theologically, but it’s interesting to look at it that way.
What is [A festering gob of protestant falsehood]?
(You wouldn’t really repeat yourself again, would you?)
Absolutely, positively, any way at all.