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.
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.
This post, as well as several other ones on this thread, is "mind-reading" and "making it personal".
Unless "they" and "their" doesn't refer to Catholic FReepers, in which case I wonder why it's posted here.
Yes it does, and She also holds that people cannot avoid sin their whole life expect by way of a special privilege by God, as we hold regarding the Blessed Mother.
Do you accept this Canon of Trent from the Decree on Justification?
Canon 23. If anyone says that a man once justified can sin no more nor lose grace, and therefore he that falls was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.
How do you presume these droves of non-Catholics without access to the Sacraments are able to do something which we Catholics have all hopelessly failed to accomplish with access to the Sacraments - live a life completely free of sin? If they cannot, how do they have access to the life of grace? If they do not have access to the life of grace due to their continual sinning and their lack of a means of forgiveness via Penance, how are they justified and saved?
The Church does not presume to know what is in the hearts and heads of any individual.
No the Church does not. The Church has no need of presuming this. She can simply preach the gospel and let the chips fall where they will, grace working on those chosen by God, who conform there will to Him.
It even holds that those who have never heard the Word of God or never known of Jesus Christ (i.e.; pagan babies) are not denied the Kingdom of Heaven if they have not rejected what is Good.
You do believe in original sin, right? Unbaptized children are lost because they are born deprived of grace. Do you seriously believe that the children of pagans hold some special position which gives them santifying grace and obviates the need for baptism? If that is the case, why do we baptize our children? If pagan children are full of sanctifying grace, then surely Catholic children are too! Is baptism just a social rite? I know many Catholics now treat it that way, delaying the Baptism of their children for months or even years because the baptismal party is more important to them than infusing sanctifying grace into the soul of their child to join them to Christ and rob the devil of his dominion over them
Furthermore, those who do not know Jesus Christ cannot be saved. The knowledge of Christ is necessary for salvation as a necessity of means. Without it we are lost. This is because knowing Jesus Christ IS salvation. St. John 17.3, Acts 4.12, St. John 14.6, St. John 3.18, St. John 3.36, etc. This is so foundational to Catholicism that it always surprises me when someone denies it, but here we are again.
161. Believeing in Jesus Christ and in the One Who sent Him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:36; 6:40; et al). "Since `without faith it is impossible to please [God]' and to attain to the fellowship of His sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life `but he who endures to the end,'" (Vatican I, Dei Fillius 3; cf. Matthew 10:22; 24:13 and Hebrews 11:6; Council of Trent Decree on Justification, 8) [Catechism of the Catholic Church]
Could that be any clearer? Without explicit faith in Jesus Christ, one is certainly lost.
I would also add that your false Catholicism is bleeding through in your presumption that the TULIP apply to Catholic teachings.
"Who are the elect? You, if you wish it." (St. Augustine). That's not very TULIPy is it? I'm not a Calvinist.
The reason for evangelizing non-Catholic Christians to be Catholics is to give to them the many sacramental opportunities for sanctifying grace that facilitate one's quest for heaven. By analogy, there are superbly athletic 25-year-olds who play baseball or football very well. There are a smaller percentage who are 35 years-old and play as well. All in all, it is helpful but neither sufficient nor necessary to be 25 years old rather than 35 if you want to start for the Yankees or your own favorite team.
If you make heaven, there seems no rational reason, based on your denomination alone why God who judged you worthy would penalize you for succeeding on the tougher path (the one with far less in the way of sanctifying grace).
Therefore, Catholics should work harder to bring you into the fold to ease your path to heaven through sanctifying grace available through the sacraments. If we fail, you may well see heaven anyways just as many of us Catholics do not.
The Catholic Baltimore Catechism on which I was raised starts with the following:
Q. Who Made us? A. God made us.
Q. Why did God make us? A. God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy forever with Him in the next.
You can fulfill God's purposes without being a Catholic and many do. It is simply easier with the sanctifying graces that are available through His sacraments. The Mass is very important as well. That Christ wept in the Garden at Gethsemane over the fact that His flock would not be as one must inevitably mean that some of His flock would be of differing persuasions than others while still being OF His flock and not just that He would prefer it to be otherwise. He grants us free will and then judges our use of that free will.
The most Christian person I have ever known was my mother's best friend Hilda. Hilda was an old school Methodist (no liquor, no caffeine, no card-playing, no dancing, etc.) and believed in all that was entailed by that description. She suffered greatly in many ways via the misbehavior of family members. She never lost her absolute love for God, her sunny disposition, nor her passionate Christian charity, nor her dedication to Scripture, nor her heroic ability to turn the other cheek, nor her love for us who did not share the precise details of her faith. If I do make it to heaven and do not find Hilda there, I will be very confused. I am certainly not worthy to have known her. I thank God for the fact that I did.
Your posts do not reflect Catholic teaching.
BK: Pope Pius IX infallibly defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (that she was from her very conception free of original sin and its consequences) in the 1850s. As Catholics, we DO have to believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. She apparently never died (She went to sleep and was taken body and soul to heaven by angels) and never suffered the pangs of Childbirth since those are specific consequences of original sin (inherited by the rest of us from Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience to God).
Catholics have God, OPCers have Calvin.
“how did you mean it not too many posts ago, to me?”
As a salutation, as previously explained.
If your salvation must be procured by formal action by an outside party, then it is not something you actually possess right now.
It's not the case that, for anyone on earth, their "salvation is something they actually possess right now", so your objection is a red herring. The contrary position was condemned by Trent.
It follows that the separated Churches(23) and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church. -- Unitatis Redintegratio, section 3, paragraph 4
Ignorance excuses from culpability of sin. That's what Bl. Pius IX says in this regard: "God ... will by no means suffer anyone to be punished with eternal torment who has not the guilt of deliberate sin."
If you're "excused from culpability of sin," by definition, in justice, you are excused from the punishment of that sin. If hell is the punishment for the sins of schism and heresy, and you're excused from that punishment as a result of invincible ignorance, then you go to heaven.
[The following are prescribed errors:]
None of which I have embraced.
Indeed, this is certainly quite contrary to Catholic teaching. ...[invincible ignorance quote here]... The Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church is
You're ellipsizing exactly the part of the citation that supports my case. Why on earth do you suppose he discusses invincible ignorance in that context anyway?
Fr. Feeney and Co. got themselves into trouble over the denial of Baptism of Desire, the defined dogma whereby someone who believes in the Catholic Faith, but has the misfortune of being unable to be baptized prior to dying, can still be saved.
That is baptism of explicit desire. There is also baptism of implicit desire, as the catechism makes clear:
1260 ... Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicity if they had known its necessity.
How can it be any clearer than this? Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (a classic pre-Vatican II compendium of dogmatic theology), page 312, on the necessity of the church for salvation:
The necessity of belonging to the Church is not merely a necessity of precept, but a necessity of means ... The necessity of means is, however, not an absolute necessity, but a hypothetical one. In special circumstances, namely, in the case of invincible ignorance or of incapability, actual membership of the Church can be replaced by the desire (votum) for the same. This need not be expressly (explicite) present, but can also be included in the moral readiness faithfully to fulfill the word of God (votum implicitum). In this manner also those who are in fact outside the Catholic Church can achieve salvation.
Again, how can it be made any clearer?
And, one more time, is Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, the Pope of Rome at the present time?
You've not heard of the concept of "perfect contrition"? You'll find it in any catechism not written for young children.
And a blessed feast day of St. Juan Diego, as well. "Am I not here, who am your mother? Go, tell the priests to have a church built here ... I will give you a sign"
We're discussing the salvation of Protestants, not that of Buddhists.
And again, it's a necessity of means that is normative, not absolute. A three-week old baby who dies still wet from a Catholic baptismal font has no conscious or explicit "knowledge of Christ".
You are very confused, or something worse.
Oy vey, this topic again? Listen on Judgement Day, the Lord will not ask us if we are CATHOLIC OR PROTESTANTS. The Lord loves us all. I have accepted Him as my Saviour and when it is my time to go, I request of Him ever so humbly to walk me to Heaven. I am Catholic and I truly resent either side saying and so this is the way you should think. I grew up in a mixed religious household: Father: Methodist and Mother: Catholic, so I learned from both sides.
Your post raises a technical question that i want to ask, as a way of understanding how a church claims a path back to the original church. I don’t mean this to be confrontational, as I’m not trying to make a point about doctrine with this question, just about process.
Presuming that the Pope defined Imacculate Conception in 1850s (I say that because I have no certain knowledge of that, so I’m jsut accepting it as a premise — really my question would work with a hypothetical as well). Suppose a significant part of the Church had decided at that time to reject that teaching, and had made their own church but otherwise held to every tenet of the Catholic faith and tradition.
Now, it’s 200 years later, and you have these two churches. Which one gets to claim they go back to the original church? The one with the name “Catholic” and the Pope, which now preaches the Immaculate Conception? Or the one which is exactly the same except that they don’t accept the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which means they still practice the faith just as it was for 1822 years after the foundation of the church?
I would argue that the 2nd church as a better claim to the bloodline.
Which would mean the argument over which church is the “original church”, to the degree such an argument has any value, would not be based on the name, but would require close examination of the changes in doctrine and dogma over the years, to determine which church most closely held to the same doctrine and dogma as the original church.
We see that happening in the Episcopalian church — which ones have claim to the origins, the one with the name but who accept gay priests, or the ones who are splitting off to remain true to the previous doctrine?
In my opinion, no church seems to have a pure bloodline of doctrinal teaching that mirrors the original church — but that is an opinion based partly out of ignorance of the details of doctrine of every church in the world.
But in what way does a church which has changed it’s doctrine, sometimes significantly, many times, claim exclusive rights to the bloodline?
The pictures you posted were anti-RC. My question was why people would see RC's as a threat to liberty. You brought up the question with the silly knee jerk "everybody is picking on us stuff".
As with anything context is important. The prejudice against RC's was wrong, but when you look at all the persecution perpetrated by the RCC it was understandable. The RCC had no prior history of being at the forefront of individual liberty.
The Bible says in John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 5:24 says Truly, truly , I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and died not come into judgement, but has passed out of death into life.
John 11:25-26 says “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
there are many more verses in the Bible supporting my belief. I believe I. Baptism, but as a profession of your faith after accepting Christ as your Savior.
Outside of the scriptures in The Bible I don’t believe anything else. If you disagree your free to do that, but I’m saying I believe what the Bible says, salvation is so easy and free!
“Who are the elect? You, if you wish it.” (St. Augustine).
Every Calvinist I know would agree with this statement, as do I. Those who wish to be among the God’s elect are those whom the Father has effectually drawn to the Son (John 6:44). None but the elect want anything to do with the one true living God.
But in what way does a church which has changed it's doctrine, sometimes significantly, many times, claim exclusive rights to the bloodline?
There are a couple of different questions here. Let me deal with the easier one first.
"Claim exclusive rights to the bloodline". I'm not at all convinced that we do that. Certainly, any church which has valid episcopal orders (e.g., the Orthodox) is also part of the "bloodline".
But Jesus did more than just establish a bloodline. He founded a visible church to teach in his name, and willed that it persist on earth, guided by the Holy Spirit, until the end of time. That church is his bride, and (sorry, Salt Lake City) he is not a polygamist: there's only one bride.
Changes in doctrine. There are two kinds of changes, contradiction on the one hand, or organic development on the other. There's very little evidence that the Catholic Church has ever contradicted her doctrine (taught "not X" infallibly, then later taught "X"). The best example is on the issue of usury, but even that one is debatable.
The definition of the IC was not a contradiction, but a development. If we know that "A" is true and "B" is true, and we know that "A and B implies C" is true, then that means that C is true. Whether we knew that yesterday, and didn't say it out loud, or didn't know it consciously yesterday, but know it now ... that's not a contradiction, but a development in understanding.
Our Lord promised the church, through his disciples, that she would be "led to all truth". That leading is a process, not a punctiliar event.
You can make the same argument that you made wrt the IC with respect to Nicaea. Wouldn't an Arian say, "Look, the church changed her doctrine at Nicaea -- we didn't have any creed demanding belief in the divinity of Christ before it. So therefore, we are closer to the original church"?
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