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.
An astute observation, for sure.
You post sooooo much robust clarifying historical, Biblical and theological TRUTH.
Of course you’re right.
You’re historically right.
You’re right by the documents.
However, as I’ve noted before . . . The Vatican affiliates and agents are
ALL OVER THE WATER FRONT FROM ONE EXTREME TO THE OTHER ON A LONG LIST OF ISSUES . . . Line all the documents up . . . all the sermons . . . all the pronouncements by Bishops, Cardinals and even comparing Popes . . .
They can assert essentially anything and everything and pretend it’s allllll Vaticanism/Roman Catholocism.
What a convenient set of slippery theology!
I’d be mighty nervous if I received a supernatural gift from anyone/anything other than God...
###ALL OVER THE WATER FRONT FROM ONE EXTREME TO THE OTHER ON A LONG LIST OF ISSUES ###
Yup, every wind of doctrine!
Actually, that is the start, but to be a Christian, one is requried to be baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost by someone who is already baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
That baptism is indelible and, whatever the person does thereafter, includes the person in the visible Body of Christ.
Their hypocrisy on that point
and their lack of candid, honest insight about that
have always amazed me.
It’s like some sort of mental . . . what . . . mental . . . brain blip . . . their thinking just doesn’t go there no matter how obvious, factual, blatant, clear and logical it is.
What a red herring. To wit: Fail to engage the point made (multiple Protestant denominations with identical presuppositions); then drag out a dead fish and scream "SMELL THIS!!"
A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to "win" an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic
Doesn’t wash with the facts displayed hereon virtually 24/7
Love it. That is one smart dog, even imitating the way the boy scrunches his eyes closed.
= = =
Catholic.. Christian... Hey, we are all in this together!
= = =
Yep, we are all grafted in. Ephesians 2 says
12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
= = =
Christ Our Peace
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Christ Our Cornerstone
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
I have no idea what that means nor how it relates to my point.
Would that be "mind-reading?" Not to mention calling me a liar?
I'm actually sure I do wonder, and I wonder often about the best ways to clarify the difference.
It might seem that sister Salvation is making the case harder by saying that it's a KIND of worship, but that's more a matter of language than of meaning. After all, "worship" used to be used of people of great wealth, as in (from memory) the description of a graveyard in which were buried "many of honor [nobility] and many of worship [wealth]. If one is going to attempt theology, one has to gain some mastery over the Trivial arts, grammar, logic, and rhetoric or one will waste too much time chasing spectres and moonbeams.
The problem is that some Protestants live in what seems to be a faintly Manichean and dualistic theological universe. And, probably because their "worship" experience is so tied to their culture, they are provincial (both geographically and temporally) in their understanding of language and gesture. This leads to a kind of superstitious fear of the customs of others.
Many Catholics are exuberant and expressive in their worship. We beat our breast, kiss things as a sign of respect, bow our heads at the name of Jesus or at the mention of great mysteries, like the Incarnation.
On the other hand, some Protestants make a virtue of cultural reserve. So when they see a Catholic kneeling, as I often do, before an icon of St. Dominic, they, somewhat simple-mindedly, think I am paying him divine honors. In THEIR conventions and language of gesture kneeling is a sign of divine honors. But being provincial in outlook, they confuse their customs with divine or natural law.
Similarly with appeals to saints. I'll ask St Anthony to "help me out here," when I can't find my glasses. The legalistic Protestant (not that all are legalistic, or that any are legalistic in every respect) thinks that because I didn't say "By your intercession" I must think Anthony is a kind of demi-god.
I'm suddenly struck with a fantasy of Protestant courtship:
Darling, of course you are not the most important person in the world to me. Jesus is more important.Because we do not comport ourselves in line with Protestant cultural norms and we do not express ourselves within the strict guidelines of Protestant approved rhetoric, those who say works and legalism have nothing to do with salvation say we are not only wrong but damnable.
And when I say if you accepted my proposal that would make me very happy, I think I should point out that only Jesus can give me real and lasting happiness, while you, as a mortal and a redeemed (I hope, but of course I am not sure) sinner cannot even approximate the happiness that God gives eternally.
And while your eyes are beautiful, they are as nothing compared to the beauty of Holiness which surrounds the Mercy Seat ... Hey, where are you going? I'm not finished!
This is the kind of thing that helps one develop a sense of the absurd.
Help me with the chicken and egg thing.
Mama mia. That’s some kind of spicy posting! Thanks!
Where are you??
Not once have any of them been about religion.
Does this make us strange?
They were probably intimidated by the costumes, lol.
“Why are you even posting on this thread if you dont care?”
It disheartens me to see Catholics (1) crying about hurt feelings because someone said something “mean” to them and (2) denying the truths of their own faith to curry favor with others.