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Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Process of Christian Initiation ^ | 1985-1991 | Dr. Robert Schihl and Paul Flanagan

Posted on 02/09/2010 5:58:08 PM PST by Salvation

Catholic Biblical Apologetics

Apologetics without apology!

What does the Roman Catholic Church teach about ...? ... and why?

This website surveys the origin and development of Roman Catholic Christianity from the period of the apostolic church, through the post-apostolic church and into the conciliar movement. Principal attention is paid to the biblical basis of both doctrine and dogma as well as the role of paradosis (i.e. handing on the truth) in the history of the Church. Particular attention is also paid to the hierarchical founding and succession of leadership throughout the centuries.

This is a set of lecture notes used since 1985 to teach the basis for key doctrines and dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. The objectives of the course were, and are:

The course grew out of the need for the authors to continually answer questions about their faith tradition and their work. (Both authors are active members of Catholic parish communities in the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Robert Schihl was a Professor and Associate Dean of the School of Communication and the Arts at Regent University. Paul Flanagan is a consultant specializing in preparing people for technology based changes.) At the time these notes were first prepared, the authors were spending time in their faith community answering questions about their Protestant Evangelical workplaces (Mr. Flanagan was then a senior executive at the Christian Broadcasting Network), and time in their workplaces answering similar questions about their Roman Catholic faith community. These notes are the result of more than a decade of facilitating dialogue among those who wish to learn more about what the Roman Catholic Church teaches and why.

The Process of Christian Initiation

The Process of Christian Initiation

Christians base their approach to Christian initiation, that is, what is to be expected from a new Christian, on several scriptures.

The first set of scriptures which determines Christian initiation is from the Acts of the Apostles and from the Gospels according to Mark and John.

Acts 16:30-31
Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved."
Mk 1:15
This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.
Jn 5:24
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.

In response to these scriptures, Protestant and Evangelical Christians profess belief and acceptance of all that Jesus taught as necessary to meet the requirement of Christian initiation. They exact that the Christian believe Jesus and in Jesus, that he is Lord, that he died, rose again, defeated death and sin, and that through him sins are forgiven.

Catholic Christians express their response to these scriptures by professing belief and acceptance in Jesus as Lord, and all that is contained in the Apostles Creed. Roman Catholic Christians must profess belief in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. They must believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. That Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. That he also descended to the dead. On the third day that he rose again. That he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. That he will come again to judge the living and the dead. Catholic Christians must believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

A second set of scriptures also indicates requirements for Christian initiation.

Rom 10:9-10
For, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

The Protestant and Evangelical Christian response to this scripture is to exact from the new Christian a confession on the lips.

Catholic Christians respond to the scripture by exacting the same detailed profession of faith as articulated in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. Praying the Nicene Creed is a recurring and key element of Catholic weekly liturgies.

Another scripture in this second set is from Mark's Gospel:

Mk 1:15
Repent, and believe in the gospel.

Protestant and Evangelical Christians respond to this scripture by exacting from the new Christian the repentance of sinfulness.

Catholic Christians elicit a specific acknowledgment of the rejection of Satan, all his works and all his pomps.

A final scripture from the second set is found in the Acts of the Apostles:

Acts 4:12
There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.

Protestant and Evangelical Christians elicit the confession of Jesus by name.

Catholic Christians elicit the same as is clear from the Apostles Creed.

The third and final scripture set which determines the process of Christian initiation is from John's Gospel.

Jn 3:5
Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit."

The Protestant and Evangelical Christian response is to put emphasis on a "born-again" experience on the part of the new Christian.

The Roman Catholic Church has always taught that with Christian initiation, new divine life enters the Christian and transforms his/her life.

There is one remaining difference in emphasis in Christian initiation among Christians.

Protestant and Evangelical Christians place emphasis on the necessity of faith only, with baptism not rigidly connected to the Christian initiation.

Eph 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God

Catholic Christian emphasis is on the intimate connection between faith and baptism.

1 Pet 3:20-21
God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.

For Protestant and Evangelical Christians, faith is a gift of God, unmerited, and Christian initiation is a one-time event.

For Catholic Christians, faith is also a gift of God, unmerited, and in baptism, it is Christ who baptizes, and Christian initiation is, as the word implies, the beginning of a process.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: bible; catholic; catholiclist; moapb; rcia
This is explained in an extraordinary way in my opinion.
1 posted on 02/09/2010 5:58:09 PM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; Lady In Blue; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

2 posted on 02/09/2010 6:00:22 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
More information on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) for those who are interested.

Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Process of Christian Initiation

How Does a Person Become a Catholic? [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: The RCIA Inquiry Stage In the Catholic Church [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: A Strong Start in the Faith: The Catholic RCIA Stages [Ecumenical]
Lutheran Wife has questions before joining Catholic Church
Belleville Bishop Braxton in Brouhaha with his priests (title mine)

A Ramble through My "New Catholic" Wish List {RCIA referenced]
Help with RCIA (Vanity)
Catholic Liturgy - Funeral Masses for a Suicide And More on Confession for RCIA Candidates
Confession for RCIA Candidates And More on the Prayer of the Faithful
RCIA and Holy Saturday

3 posted on 02/09/2010 6:05:07 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

Catholic Biblical Apologetics: Foundation: Apologetics Without Apology
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: Foundation: An Incomplete Picture
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: Foundation: Dearly Beloved Catholic Brothers and Sisters

Being Catholic and Christian: Faith and Salvation

Catholic Biblical Apologetics:Being Catholic & Christian:Faith and Salvation-Authoriative
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: Being Catholic & Christian: Apostolic Confessions of Faith
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: Post-Apostolic Confessions of Faith
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: Salvation: A Biblical Portrait
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: Salvation: "Being Saved"
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Catholic Response to "Are You Saved?"
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Knowledge of Salvation
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: Faith and Works
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Process of Christian Initiation

4 posted on 02/09/2010 6:13:06 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

It would be better if it were more accurate. I cannot speak for the Catholic summaries, but the Protestant ones seem a bit off.

The evangelicals I know say that, to be saved, one must respond to the revelation of God by his grace by repenting and believing in Jesus Christ. This assumes God is at work in our lives before we realize it. We do not list a set of facts about Jesus that must be believed, but the person himself. As one grows in knowledge, he will know more about Jesus - but, in my own case, I was saved at 12 but didn’t know much about the details of Jesus until later.

Obviously, if as someone grows they ‘grow’ to believe that Jesus is someone different from the one revealed in scripture, then they never truly believed in Him at all.

Repentance isn’t intellectual, but with the whole being or not at all.

Baptism with water is underemphasized, IMHO, but it isn’t water baptism that saves, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Faith is NOT a gift of God, as far as I can tell from scripture, but is the description of what we have when we believe - for faith means that person A believes in person B.

There is no suggestion that one is saved and finished with naught more to do, for salvation starts with justification (which is finished) and continues with sanctification. Salvation can refer to simply justification, but often refers to justification, sanctification, and glorification.

5 posted on 02/09/2010 6:26:38 PM PST by Mr Rogers (I loathe the ground he slithers on!)
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To: Mr Rogers

And I can’t truthfully speak to the evangelical and Protestant approaches to Christian initiation.

However, I do agree with the Catholic viewpoints put forth here.

Posting the introduction with these threads, I believe, is important, because it lets all readers know that the authors have some evangelical and Protestant background. To me, both sides of issues are presented, and we can be the judge.

6 posted on 02/09/2010 6:34:31 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Mr Rogers

I have witnessed a couple of Christian service altar calls, however. And what I was reading here seemed to go along with what I saw happening there.

7 posted on 02/09/2010 6:47:20 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

The altar call is the beginning, not the consummation.

8 posted on 02/09/2010 7:35:48 PM PST by Mr Rogers (I loathe the ground he slithers on!)
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To: Salvation

As a practical matter, there is a process in place in every Catholic parish, known as Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. A similar pattern is followed by returning Catholics, so called reverts.

I went through it — I was an unchurched and uncatechized Orthodox since infancy.

It normally starts in the fall, continues through the winter and spring and if all goes smoothly, culminates with acceptance to the Church at Easter.

I hasten to emphasize that this is not a firm calendaric requirement. For good reason, speedier arrangements can be made. One in danger of proximate death should speak to the priest immediately and he, if sincere, will be received as speedily as his physical condition or risks demand. Many conversions happen literally at the hour of death.

But ordinarily, that is the schedule. If you are interested, and not — we hope — in a hurry, wait till September and ask in the parishes near you. Shop around: given the infestation of liberalism in the Church, it is very worthwhile to make sure solid doctrine is taught in the RCIA. It tends to be manned, or womanned, by rather liberal nuns, and, naturally, the Church wants to be receptive to anyone and that often adds to the liberalism, and subtracts from orthodoxy.

Remember that the Catholic Church has Eastern Particular Churches alongside the better-known Latin Rite, that are Eastern Orthodox in character; you are free to choose any of these, so long as they are in communion with Rome. They are known as Byzantine Rite, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Melkite, Greek Catholic, Maronite and several others. You can enter through one such Church and practice in another, as well as switch between such Churches (also confusingly called Rites) pretty much at any time and multiple times. Be warned though that the Office of the Readings and some lesser holidays do not always match.

The process is broken down in two stages, Inquiry and Catechumenate. Inquiry is very informal, people come and go, it is there to have your questions posed and answered. If following the Inquiry a serious interest is felt, the Catechumenate will express his desire to enter the Church. He will be required to attend Mass, if at all possible, at the hour when his catechumenate class is held, and at Church holidays (Catholic churches often have several Masses on Sunday, but the Mass at which the Catecumens are asked to be present will likely be the late morning Mass). There are, at that stage, certain prayers and blessings that the Church will say for you and you will be dismissed for class ceremoniously lead by the Bible held high, to a class room as a hymn is sung and the congregation begins the Eucharist. In other words, you participate in the Liturgy of the Word, but are sent off to class right before the Eucharist. The classes become more structured, you will get the basics of Christian theology and praxis. There are several non-obligatory celebrations during Lent and the Holy Week, such as the Stations of the Cross, which you will have a chance to experience. Usually, there is a weekend retreat to a monastery with more concentrated prayers, communal meals and meditations. Naturally, no committment is incurred until the sacraments of initiation are celebrated.

The sacraments that you will receive depend on the sacraments already received. Generally, the Protestant baptisms are considered valid. If there is a doubt, a conditional baptism is scheduled, but if there is evidence of a baptism with water using the full Trinitarian formula, you will not be baptized nor conditionally baptized. You will also be confirmed (as far as I know, Catholic confirmation is always done, even if something similar was celebrated in your prior denomination). If you wish, you can go to first confession right then, although confession is always on your own initiative in the Church. You will be asked to swear an oath publicly in front of the congregation, — I quote closely from memory, — “I believe that all that the Catholic Church teaches, professes and proclaims was revealed by God”. Do not be surprised if and some point the congregation will stand up and give you a so-incorrectly-called Nazi salute.

Confirmation will be celebrated in the Cathedral and you will be chrysmated by the Bishop.

The first Communion will be celebrated, normally, on the Holy Saturday at the Easter Vigil Mass.

No ecclesial status received in another denomination automatically transfers with conversion. Provisions exist for Anglican/Episcopal clergy, especially in the States.

Interestingly, Orthodox priests that switch over do not have special provisions even though they are valid priests right where they are. Protestant clergy especially often finds themselves in a difficult position after conversion, as they typically struggle to define for themselves some lay ministry compatible with their talent and training. A good networking tool for people in that position is Marcus Grodi with his Coming Home Network.

All, despite difficulties, at times severe, should come home where you all belong. You will never see the same person in the mirror again.

9 posted on 02/09/2010 8:11:03 PM PST by annalex (
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To: annalex

You have explained RCIA very well from a personal point of view. Thank you!

You wrote:

**Many conversions happen literally at the hour of death.**

My priest has talked about numerous Sacraments, Anointing of the Sick, Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation (the priest is authorized in these cases to perform this Sacrament.)

He even talked about performing a valid marriage for the couple (one partner dying, of course.) It seems that even the Sacrament of Reconciliation was mentioned by him too, depending on if the person is coming back to the church — revert, as you say above.

10 posted on 02/10/2010 12:31:46 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
A question is sometimes asked on Catholic apologetics threads: -- What happens if one is in a desert, alone on an island, or dying and there is no priest around to satisfy some Catholic requirement? The subtext being that in justice, the absence of a priest is not that man's fault and therefore will not count against him as sin. But then, the questioner continues, if such man can be saved by personal disposition alone, why does anyone needs the sacraments and the priests celebrating them?

The answer is simple: indeed, if one cannot physically get a priest, yet has a spiritual need -- such as a desire to convert, or be baptised, or confess a sin, -- God will count his desire and supply the effect of the sacrament based on his sincere prayer alone. What will happen is what happened to the Good Thief on the cross: his repentance, his good works in defence of the innocently accused Christ, his desire to be with Christ in Heaven all counted as a sacrament, that lead him to heaven.

On the other hand, when there is no physical impediment to asking the Church for sacramental conversion, it would be a sign of a confused mind and a weak faith not to follow through in the ordinary way.

This doctrine can be summarized thus: the sacraments are necessary under "necessity of suitableness", but not absolutely. See Sacraments.

11 posted on 02/10/2010 4:46:01 PM PST by annalex (
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