"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

31 July 2006

A Sign for My Friend?

Continuing the saga of Circumstances Converge, I had an exciting day.

This morning I went to work with the packet of information I wrote up on Mary doctrines along with The Case for Christ for my friend. I wasn't sure how I was going to present the stuff to her since we had our discussion last week and was afraid she may have forgotten.

When my friend stopped by to say hello, we discussed our weekends. Then she asked me how church was on Sunday and what was the message about. I told her and she asked a few questions seeming more interested than ever before. She then said to me "I took your advice and prayed directly to God this weekend". I said that was great and then told her I had a little present for her and gave her the book and the packet.

Tears immediately started to well up in her eyes and she said "I prayed last night for God to reveal the Truth to me, but I said I was confused so I asked for a sign". She didn't say it outright, but based on her response I think she got at least a partial sign this morning.

She was very excited about the book as we had discussed it previously and she said that she had been thinking about it. She was also happy for the Mary information I had written up for her although she had already done a bit of internet research herself and seemed to be doubting her original stance already.

What also struck me was the sequence of events. See, our original discussion happened on Wednesday when she challenged me for bibilical verses to refute her beliefs with regards to Mary. That evening I really wanted to get all the information together but I just didn't have the time to devote to it that evening or for the rest of the week. I decided I would work on it over the weekend and I stayed up late last night to finish.

I usually order all my books online, but I really felt like I needed to take this opportunity to give her The Case for Christ along with the information I had written up. I made a special trip to the bookstore to pick up the book so I would have it for her. And it all came together this morning - she was open and I was ready. Only God could have orchestrated that one!

What can I say but that I am so encouraged by our interaction today. She didn't seem ready to accept Christ just yet, but she was definitely interested and asking the right questions. And I am so proud of her for asking God to reveal the truth to her, what a great start. I will continue to pray that she will come to know Jesus as her Savior and thank him for allowing me to be involved in his awesome work.

If you can say a quick prayer for her I would appreciate it!

30 July 2006

Sola Scriptura Prelude

I keep getting sidetracked from my Sola Scriptura post so I will point you over to Ellen who is posting on Sola Scriptura on her site: Sola Scriptura - A History Lesson. She is using a booklet I believe by Dr. W. Robert Godfrey who also has an Article on Sola Scripura available online.

I am really feeling burdened to get myself better versed in the idea of Sola Scriptura and will be doing more study I hope over the next few months. I look forward to sharing what I learn here.

Michele has posted about a book she likes called The Battle Belongs to the Lord: The Power of Scripture for Defending Our Faith. Here is part of the description:

"This is the book to give to Christians who know in their heart of hearts that they ought to be involved in the business of defending the faith, but do not know how to proceed or have been scared off by the complex philosophical nature of apologetics. Oliphint demonstrates what we have really known all along: God intends for the regular Christian to do apologetics...Oliphint begins with an analogy between the Christian’s task of apologetics and the fight between David and Goliath. David fought a giant with whom he was utterly unprepared to deal, at least from a purely human vantage point. But David defeated Goliath because he knew that the battle belonged to the Lord."

That book sounds right up my alley (thanks, Michelle)!

Something funny happened today also. The man sitting next to my husband at church had a book with him called Scripture Alone" by Sproul. My husband elbowed me to take a look. There is just no hiding from this topic for me!

I made a lot of progress on my "packet" for my friend with verses to oppose some of the Marian doctrines in her church (which she can't seem to let go of). Now I just want to add a few clarifying verses about the importance of relying solely on Jesus - not sure the best verses to use for that without overwhelming her with information. I also picked up The Case for Christ for her and hope she reads it.

28 July 2006

Circumstances Converge, Part 2

(If you haven’t read Part 1 of this story, go back and start there.)

Hopefully what you were able to see from Part 1 was how the topic of Catholicism came at me from a few angles and I didn’t duck. I found the sequence of events interesting but it got a bit more interesting when the same topic came up in my real life (as opposed to my fake blogging life).

One of my friends at work is a cradle Catholic. She is not terribly religious or devout as far as being Catholic, but it is all she has ever known. A few months back upon learning that I am a non-Catholic Christian, she asked me a few questions about what exactly I believed (knowing basically nothing about Protestantism). Sometime later she asked me what my “religion’s” viewpoint was on Mary and from there we talked more about our own beliefs.

I won’t go into all the details now, but let’s just say I think it is highly unlikely that she is saved. At one point she said that she did believe in Jesus, but later balked when I said Jesus was the only way to heaven. She gave me the old “but what about the good people, I can’t believe God would send good people to hell” routine (“her God wouldn’t do that”). I asked her how she thought she could be a believer in Jesus if she didn’t believe the things he spoke. We went through some other apologetics-type stuff then the conversation ended.

Since that time, talk of religion was pretty much non-existent and I didn’t push it. But this week while I was discussing my issues with Catholicism on this blog (which came up by the circle of events I described in Part 1), what does my friend at work bring up but Mary! Why don’t we (Protestants) revere Mary? We debated whether or not Mary was worth such a high standing in the church and discussed some other differences between Catholics and Protestants, but Mary was the big one for her. She actually admitted that she has some issues with the Catholic Church, but she just doesn’t think she could be part of the Protestant religion because we don’t hold Mary in high enough regard.

Finally after much discussion she challenged me to provide her with bible verses to back up my opinion that Mary is not to be revered the way the Catholics revere her. What she didn’t know is that I have been having discussions about this very topic in my secret, fake blogging life and was more than up to the challenge. I am going to work on a little packet for her this weekend and pray that the verses I provide her cut through to her heart as scripture can. She goes hot and cold on me with this stuff so I’m not holding my breath but it is progress.

So while I said previously that I am sometimes apprehensive about saying that God was orchestrating certain circumstances in my life, this situation seems to have his Name all over it. I don’t know what will happen with my friend, but I am excited to be able to share my faith with her and pray for her (will you say a quick prayer for her also?).

Being critical of another faith, especially when talking to a person of that faith, can be difficult and can make you seem unloving, judgemental, holier-than-thou, a troublemaker, arguementative, etc. Maybe some people think that I discuss these more controversial topics for less than honorable reasons. But in these last few posts I have spoken what I believe to be the truth about the topic/circumstances that came my way with the same goal as always in faith matters - seeing the lost saved. If I had worried about how others may view me, I would have missed out.

27 July 2006

Circumstances Converge, Part 1

Contrary to what I said in my last post, there are times in my life where I can see occurrences building on each other which just have to be more than a coincident. In this case, it has to do with my recent posts on Catholicism.

Let me take you back to when this all started. A few months back I wrote a post called 50 Things About Me where I mentioned in one of the bullet points that I was a “recovering Catholic”. Elena happened to read that post while visiting for the first time and asked: “what is a recovering Catholic?”. It was like the shot heard around the world. Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic, but it did cause me to write a second post describing my upbringing in the Catholic Church called something ingenious like My Version of A Recovering Catholic. There was some minor discussion in the comments section of that post, but it got quiet quickly.

A couple of months later I read a post at Challies about Rome and The Beast of Revelation. I made some comments on that post back and forth with what seemed to be a Catholic apologetic. It was that thread which inspired my True or False Test post (defending the Bible as God’s one and only authoritative Word). Around that same time I received an email from Beth who stumbled upon my Recovering Catholic post and had a few comments about it, resulting in the Dialogue with A Catholic Posts (okay, I’m tired of linking-you're on your own). Are you still with me? I promise, I’m almost there.

Following the comments on the Dialogue posts, I wrote another post replying back and also posted a chart (because I came across it and thought it was informative) which compared the non-biblical traditions of Catholics, Mormons, and JWs. I was just about to move on to another topic when Elena suddenly appeared on the scene to rebut some of my comments on Catholicism and defend Marian doctrines (remember: her question is what spurred the Recovering Catholic post, which spurred Beth’s email, which started the whole discussion up again months later) Okay, we have come full circle. But since this post is already so long, I will have to make this a two part-er.

Are you disappointed you came this far for nothing? Sorry, Part 2 should be better. Maybe I should have opened with a joke?

(Seriously, is this terribly boring? I hate these kind of stories from other people)

26 July 2006

Is it from God?

I am not one of those people that claims just about everything that happens in my life is some sort of a sign from God. As I figure it, there are things that come from God, things that come from Satan and things that come from the good ole wildcard we call a fallen world. I am not saying that God isn’t sovereign over everything, I just don’t think that everything that happens in my life has some sort of hidden meaning from God.

Now, when things happen that seem to be indicating something more than everyday life, I still tread lightly. I remember when I was a new Christian and we were going to a very small church. I can’t remember exactly what happen (hope you weren’t expecting a good story) but our church was trying to do something that would help it grow and things just weren’t happening as expected. The verdict? Satan must be blocking our efforts.

I remember at the time thinking, how do you know that? What if God is blocking our efforts because he’s not happy with our actions or it’s not part of his will. Are we suppose to chalk up everything that seems bad to us as Satan and everything that seems good to us to God? That seemed too easy.

That particular incident happened many years ago but I must admit, my ability to determine God’s will (or God’s nudging) is no better today. I hear so many people talking about God’s will in their lives and how this or this happened and they knew to do that. And I hope that what they are discerning really is God’s will all the time. But I tend to be suspicious. Certainly they must be befuddled once in awhile. Certainly they must have followed a few rabbit trails.

So while I admire the people who seem to have such a solid faith that they can deem the twists and turns in life as from God or not, I am not there. I try not to say that a set of circumstances in my life are happening because God wants me to do THIS. Because not only could I be mistaking the push of God for something else, but I could get the THIS wrong. So I walk tentatively, pray about things, and try not to rush into anything. That may not be the best way to do it, but that is what works for me at the moment.

But what is funny is that my whole point of starting this post was to tell a story about some things happening in my life (and related to my blog) that I felt have been orchestrated by God for a purpose. Somehow though, I ended up writing a very loosely related post without even touching on the content of the post I intended to write. While I can’t be certain, I am going to chalk up this occurrence to my wandering mind that likes to go tangential (i.e the fallen world category).

I guess I’ll be back later to write the post I intended to write here. Unless I was wrong and this was God’s will and I’m not suppose to write that other post. Hmmm.

25 July 2006

How to Increase Comment Counts

Note to Self:
Make a post about another post that has 0 comments. Explain how the lack of comments is proof in your mind that the post was so well done it left people speechless. Within a few days, watch the comments go from 0 to 27 and disprove your theory. Ponder whether you should enjoy the comments or whether you should feel sad that your theory was disproven and what it all means.

I mentioned in my last post that we had a good discussion going in the Response to Comments – Catholicism post. There is also some discussion going on under the Extra-Biblical post that I wanted to point people to also as it is an older post that everyone may have missed. That comment section is dealing more specifically with the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church and I think it is very interesting to understand why Protestants and Catholics disagree on these issues.

I think it is important to think through why we believe what we believe and try to make sure that our views are consistent with God’s ultimate truth. Unfortunately, God does not have his own website where we can access his FAQ page. But we do have something just as good and that is His Word (the Bible). It may not seem quite as straightforward as a FAQ, but the answers are there if we will just look.

May God bless our discussions and grant us all the wisdom to recognize His truth.

24 July 2006

Still on the Horizon...

Okay, my ever-impending Sola Scriptura post is still coming. I know I shouldn't keep saying that because I could be causing an artificial suspense which is sure to end in disappointment when I finally do that post, but it is weighing heavy on my mind so I feel the need to keep mentioning it.

Right now I'm a little busy with the Response to Comments-Catholicism, trying to defend why that is such a catchy title. It took me hours to come up with that title and I'm not going down without a fight.

Seriously, we have a nice discussion going on in the comments section of that post and it only reaffirms the reasons that I would like to do the Sola Scritura post. But please, prepare to be disappointed by the Sola Scriptura post because it will not be some academic tackling of the topic, just Carrie's thoughts on the matter and well, that can only get so exciting.

22 July 2006

What I'm thinking about Today

I am one of those people that needs to tackle a thought right when I have it or else I either forget or lose momentum. After I wrote the True or False Test post I had a comment by Alma opposing my stance on the Bible alone. That's a great topic and I would like to post more on it, but it feels like such a huge topic that I just can't seem to get myself to start writing. But I will, I promise.

Not that I think anyone out in cyberspace is losing sleep over the fact that I still haven't written that post I promised previously, but I say these things as more of a promise to myself and a "to do" list (so I don't forget - see my first sentence). At least I got the last post done which I had on my list for a few days.

And obviously I hit the ball out of the park on my last post as everyone who read it was so overwhelmed by it, they couldn't even make a comment. That's right. No matter how much I don't want to admit it, I like to get comments. So since some of what I consider to be my better posts often have NO comments, I have convinced myself that those are the times when people couldn't think of anything more to add. Even a "good post" just wouldn't do. If the Apostle Paul blogged, he would get zero comments in my mind.

So what we have here is one of my goofy posts. They pop up once in awhile when I feel the need to just have some fun. I know that I'm not funny, so don't feel the need to tell me that in the comments.

Back to our regular programming soon.

20 July 2006

Response to Comments - Catholicism

As promised, I want to address two of Beth’s comments on my Dialogue with a Catholic post and my Can Christian Women Not Debate post.

For brevity I am just going to post some excerpts that I wanted to respond to - you can see the full comments in the comments sections of those posts:

“I am perplexed why you put Catholics in the same boat as Mormons.”

That’s a fair statement. I wouldn’t place Catholics and Mormons in the same boat overall, but they do share a few extra-biblical similarities (see this chart) and they would both disagree with sola scriptura. The extra-biblical teachings are where I have a problem.

“Why do you focus on your doctrinal differences with Catholics and not differences you have with other Christian denominations?”

Because I grew up Catholic and most of my family is still Catholic, so I am just sticking with what I know and what I encounter in my everyday life. There are some Protestant denominations I would never join, but usually the core biblical doctrines are in place (at least on paper) so the differences are minor.

“Can we agree that you and I both embrace the Nicene Creed as the core of our Christian faith? or do you not accept this?”

Well, this one made me think. I do agree with the Nicene Creed but I certainly would not call it the core of my faith. The core of my faith is God’s Word (The Bible) and God’s Word alone. I guess I am not a big fan of creeds, even though they are a nice summary of the basic belief system. However, although we may agree on the Nicene creed, we do not agree on the Bible alone as our authority and that is where we diverge.

“I find too often with Christians of your perspective who have already decided that a Catholic can not be a Christian that there is not much listening going on.”

I am trying to listen and to be perfectly honest, our interactions do give me hope that salvation can occur through the Catholic church (remember, I have family there). And I don’t want to say that a Catholic can’t be a Christian, I just find it hard to understand how a saved person could remain in the Catholic church. Being a Christian is being a follower of Jesus, but the sacraments, the Pope, the priests, exaltation of Mary, praying to saints, “the one true church” idea– they all get in the way of a sole reliance on Jesus. I don’t agree that tradition is on par with God’s Word and I think the tradition is distracting from the core message of the Gospel.

“And in fact many of you feel that any Christian who recognizes the presence of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church has sold out to something false.”

There seems to be a trend in some religious circles to accept everyone in a liberal sort of mindset. I think that is a cultural problem nowadays and I don’t agree with it.

“I also think at times we do need to set aside our doctrinal differences and try to "just get along", not because they are not important but because we fail to take a moment to recognize the presence of God in one another on our quest to filter out those who hold onto false doctrines.”

I agree, we should all try to get along. But I don’t think we can squelch the truth in such a process. If someone is holding to a false gospel, then what they have is not the presence of God, but something else. There is only one God, with one set of characteristics and one set of expectations of his children. I believe that the only way that we come to know the one true God is by the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Anything extra is distracting at a minimum, and damning at a maximum.

Along the way someone else commented that we shouldn’t judge other people’s salvation status. I disagree with that and was glad to read this article recently. Here's a quote from the post by Mark Dever:

"Sometimes I get the feeling that people think there's something wrong with questioning the reality of a profession of faith. It's legalistic, or judging, or holier than thou. Or something.

But if evangelists want to see lost sinners saved, and if evangelists know that we sinners can deceive ourselves, then it's not surprising that we want to try to make sure (with all appropriate qualifications about our limitedness) that conversions professed are conversions possessed."

I have a story to go along with that idea, but I’ll share that another time. I’m hoping to tackle my views on sola scriptura and some of the objections made by a Mormon commenter next.

Thanks again to Beth for all of her insightful comments!

18 July 2006

Christian Women Bloggers

I mentioned previously that I was looking for new blogs to read by Christian women. Now, there are lots of wonderful blogs written by Christian women out there, but I guess I have a certain type of content and personality in mind.

So far I have added just about anybody that comments here. My theory is, if you enjoy some of what I have to say then I’ll probably enjoy what you have to say. So if you read here but never comment, now is the time to say hello so I can visit your blog.

The second type of addition to my blogroll has been commenters on other sites that I enjoy. In a similar method to above, if we both like the same blog maybe we will like each other’s blog.

So, I thought I would share here some of the newer blogs that I am reading now. I use Bloglines to keep track of all my blogs. If you do not use Bloglines or some other type of aggregator to keep track of the blogs you read, you must. It saves a lot of time.

Let me first mention Michele as she has three separate blogs (she may even have more, but these are the ones I follow now). I also think she may qualify under my “feisty” category although she may not appreciate that:
Blogging Chicks
Reformed Chicks Blabbing
Life Under the Sun

The rest:
Reformed Mama
The Preacher’s Wife
Deo Volente
Reflections of the Times

My other reads are listed in my sidebar.

17 July 2006

Extra-Biblical Teaching

I recently discovered Carm.org, an apologetics website that has some great articles. As I mentioned in a previous post, a Mormon commenter on my Bible Alone post left some objections to the idea of Sola Scriptura and I would like to address some of those thoughts in the future. I have also exchanged some pleasant emails with this person and have tried to learn a bit more about Mormonism. While doing so I came across Carm.org.

This comparison grid from Carm.org is a nice summary in my opinion of the extra-biblical teachings of Mormonism, Catholicism, and the Jehovah's Witnesses. I thought I would link to it here as I hope to touch on some of these points in my future post.

I find it interesting that faiths that hold onto some biblical teachings but veer off from the Bible alone as their sole authority, tend to veer off in similar directions. Especially with being lead by an earthly authority and being the one true church.

I also still need to address some of Beth's comments to my posts on Catholicism (which were basically our email exchange). I appreciate Beth taking the time to email me and comment further on some of the things I have said on this blog about Catholicism. Not that my viewpoint of the faith has changed, but she has made me think about how to approach my oppositions as it is never my intent to unnecessarily upset or offend someone. Thanks Beth.

12 July 2006

Where Acknowledging Ends and Disowning Begins

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven." Matt 10:32-33

I remember reading the verses above not long after I became a Christian and feeling a bit anxious. Frankly, those verses still scare me today. How do we know the boundaries of “acknowledge” and “disown”?

As I mentioned in my previous post on Christian women debating, there seems to be a large proportion of Christian women online who prefer not to tangle with the tougher issues and prefer others not tangle with the tougher issues. I for one am not afraid to debate, or to point out the issues I see with certain religions or denominations. But am I wrong? Is it better to know in my heart that there are issues but keep quiet so as not to offend?

I remember a few years ago I was eating lunch at work with a few women in my group who I didn’t know very well. These women were also scientists and for some reason the topic of Intelligent Design came up. One of my colleagues made the comment that she couldn’t believe that there are people who don’t believe in evolution.

Now, I could have just sat there and said nothing and the conversation would have moved on. There was no direct attack against God, nothing obvious to defend. But I couldn’t just be silent. I simply said, “I don’t believe in evolution” and said something else that made it clear I was a Christian. I don’t remember what exactly happened after that but the direction of the conversation quickly changed.

So why did I speak up? It certainly wasn’t pride because when you tell a table full of scientists you don’t believe in evolution you might as well tell them what size straight-jacket you wear.

Did I do it so I could brag to the people at my church about it (and years later blog about it)? Nope, other than my husband no one has ever heard this story.

I did it because when something is said that is out of line with the truth of God, I simply feel the need to speak up. To just sit quietly and say nothing FOR ME would be like disowning Jesus. If I didn’t say something it would be to avoid conflict, embarrassment, not call attention to myself – it would be all about me.

So where does acknowledgment end and disowning begin? Obviously if I say I am a follower of Christ then I acknowledge Him and if I say I am not a follower of Christ then I disown Him. But what happens in between those two extremes? Do my actions on a day to day basis acknowledge or disown?

If I sit quietly and say nothing when I know that God is being misrepresented, am I acknowledging him or disowning Him? I think that idea is what summarizes my actions in the blogosphere. It is not my intent here to judge others or throw stones or prove that I am Queen of the Mountain. I simply talk about whatever happens to be on my mind and in line with what I know about God’s truths.

I felt the need to share this because I want people to understand why I say the things I say here. I don’t think Christianity is a spectator sport. My goal in life is not to have friends on earth, but to make sure my friends will be in heaven. The only way I know how to do that is to speak His Truth as best I can.

Blogger Stinks, Take a Number

Okay, I just discovered some newer comments to some older posts because I happened to scroll down. Blogger is suppose to send me an email each time I have a new comment but that notification system stopped working for me a few months ago. I'm wondering if Wordpress would be better or if adding haloscan would help.

So I apologize to anyone who has made a comment and never heard back from me. Not that I respond to every comment, but if there is a question I try to respond.

Now, Beth has made 2 comments specifically about my posts on Catholicism that brought up some good points that I would like to address in a separate post. I'll do that when I can.

I also have meant to address some of Alma's comments on my Scripture alone post but haven't gotten to that yet.

I also exchanged an email with Alma that got more into Mormonism, I would like to talk about some of that also.

And, I am in the middle of a post (although I was interrupted and may have lost my steam and/or train of thought) which I would like to finish before I tackle any of the above.

Hence my title, take a number. If you have anything to say about moving to Wordpress or adding Haloscan, please leave me a comment. Eventually I'll see it :)

10 July 2006

Finding Christ

I'm on a mission to find some new blogs to read. I'm looking for women who love God and like to write about Him. Even better, women who are willing to get a bit fiesty in defending God and His Word.

So I've added a few new blogs to my bloglines account and will keep my fingers crossed. If you read here, please leave a comment so I can visit your own blog. If you have any suggestions for blogs that I may like, please leave a comment also.

09 July 2006

I Changed My Template...

...because I can.

And it's easier than moving furniture to get a new look.

And not as traumatizing for my husband as cutting my hair short.

I wasn't exactly looking for a fruit theme, but I liked the simplicity of this template - nice and crisp looking.

Came across this verse today:

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
Isa 9:2

I would love to have a template designed around that passage.

07 July 2006

Can Christian Women Not Debate?

I recently came upon a website for Christian women that was promoting a "blog carnival" (a carnival is a group of links to posts around a particular topic from various contributors), asking Christian women to submit posts on a particular subject. The submitted posts would be linked to from this website as long as the submission guidelines were met.

Sounded good until I came to the guidelines which basically stated that posts from blogs which tended toward controversy, slander or debate would not be accepted. Not just the carnival post itself, but the blog in general. That made my heart sink.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in blogging freedom and if someone wants to limit their carnival participants to red-haired Christian women with size 10 shoes, that is their choice. But having a carnival specifically for Christian women but not for Christian women who "debate" makes "debating" seem like a bad thing, especially when it's included with the word "slander". A Christian woman who slanders should be an oxymoron so I have to wonder what would be considered slander? Surely a Christian woman wouldn't knowingly slander someone. Has debating now reached the level of slander for Christian Women?

I guess I am a bit sensitive about this stuff as I tend to lean on the side of debate. I believe debate is a good thing and not something to be discouraged. Are any of us as Christian women so sure of our knowledge and opinions that there is no room for debate? Can we not discuss our differences and viewpoints without reaching the level of slander?

Okay, this rant may seem a little over the top based on one website's guidelines, but since I have been online this idea of debating being somehow taboo for Christian women seems to be quite prevalent. Too often with Christian women online I have seen truth hidden in the back room so as not to offend and all in the name of "grace". Grace is good, but not at the expense of truth.

It reminds me of Marla** (whose blog I can't even link to anymore because she has deleted it completely) who was pummeled when she dared to speak out about the issues of Mormons being considered as "Christians". This was a good Christian woman who brought important issues to the blogosphere but she no longer blogs. I think she has left a hole that I have yet to see filled by any other Christian woman. I miss Marla.

So, I guess I have pretty much disqualified myself from the carnival that doesn't accept debate. During my short time blogging I have had a few minor debates, but not because I had an intent to alienate or judge others. I simply speak the truth. And if I am in error, I hope my fellow Christian women will say so and not cower from a potential debate. There is no reason that debating in general should be a bad quality in a Christian woman. Has it come to that?

** As a side note, Marla's concern over Mormons identifying themselves as Christians was only further confirmed by some interesting posts and comments over at the ChoosingHome Blog.

04 July 2006

The True or False Test - What is the Key?

I would like to add some thoughts that I had after my email conversation with Beth (see Part 1 and Part 2) but I’m not in the mood right now. What was funny about the emails I received from Beth is that they came at the same time I had been exchanging some comments with a Catholic apologetic (which I didn’t even know existed before this) on this post at Challies. I then read this post and this post at Pyromaniacs, which really spoke to me.

I really have little interest in debating the issues I see In Roman Catholicism or Mormonism but yet I have managed to bring up both on this blog. I am not theologically-trained nor I am one of those people that can quote scripture well to make my points, so I feel like I’m not qualified to get into these debates. But I do have a good basis of biblical knowledge and (I think) the gift of discernment, so I know when something is amiss.

The issues I see with Mormonism, Catholicism, Jehovah Witness (ism?), and for the most any religion outside of biblical Christianity all boil down for the most part to The Bible. The latter groups do not consider the Bible the Word of God and former groups don’t believe the Bible is sufficient – they need to add to it (Book of Mormon, traditions, etc.).

Therefore, it seems to me there isn’t much point in arguing the small points. The argument needs to be around the sufficiency of scripture (Sola Scriptura). I can’t convince someone that their religion is incorrect because it does not keep with biblical truths if they either don’t believe in The Bible as the ultimate authority or they believe that they can add “truths” to the Bible based on things like tradition.

I find this idea comforting because I don’t want to spend my time researching other faiths so that I can argue against them. I want to know God’s Word so well that I can make a great argument for Him – the true Him. Which reminds me, Challies had another great post on identifying counterfeit money which ties in great with this idea of knowing the True to identify the False. I highly recommend it (be sure to read part 1 & 2) along with the posts I mentioned at Pyromaniacs.

02 July 2006

Dialogue with a Catholic, Part 2

This is the second part of my email conversation with Beth (see Part 1 below).

Here is Beth's reply to me:

Thank you for responding to my comment. You have difficult time believing that someone who knows the Word of God could be part of the Catholic Church and I have a difficult time understanding how someone who knows the Word of God could not be part of the Catholic Church

I went back and read the comments and was further saddened by the comment that made reference to "evangelicals who have sold out to ecumenism with Catholics". I have a great love for the Body Of Christ, all of it, everyone. Honestly, I hear it equally from both sides about who is right with God and who isn't. Should we only fellowship with someone who embraces every doctrine that we believe is biblical? Everyday a new denomination starts because Christians can not agree on doctrine, they believe they are interpreting scripture better than the last person.

I have always had a great love for unity in the Body of Christ and Jesus does too. In my state there is an Alliance of Christian churches that band together to pray and fight the evils of today (including the Catholic church) They embrace on statement of faith that they all agree on. When I was in college I lived in an evangelical household for 2 years, worked at a Baptist camp for 2 summers and even this week my kids will be going to Vacation Bible School at the local Christian Church. (We do have one at our own church also but the dates don’t work for us this year)

I am so sorry that when you were growing up being Catholic was a nominal thing for your family, it wasn't lived and embraced and the basic message of the gospel not heard. (From what you shared) The Catholic Church does not teach that you can punch in and out your time card every Sunday to get into Heaven, surely God knows the hearts of all. That type of attitude bothers me too. Faith is a grace and it is a mystery the way the Holy Spirit brings about conversion at different times in peoples lives, love your family and recognize God wherever He may be in their actions and lives and build on that and pray for them.

I grew up nominally Catholic too. My early faith formation did however lay a foundation that bore fruit when I became an adult and understood the gospel message. When I heard it I realized it had been what I was hearing every Sunday except now the veil was lifted, I recognized Jesus Christ present in Holy Communion.

I recently heard statistics that there is a high percentage of evangelical children not walking with the Lord when they leave home. It happens in all Christian denominations, kids growing up and not having the faith intimately lived and taught by their parents. As I have become more involved with other Christians I have come to realize that there are plenty of non-Catholic Christians (evangelicals, non-denominational etc) who have said their salvation prayer and may or may not go to church on Sunday and never get to know God either way. Initially this surprised me but now I understand that you can be a nominal evangelical too and never really know God, it is not just a Catholic thing.

It is most definitely not Catholic doctrine that no one can be saved outside of the Catholic Church. This is false. The Catechism states that in #818 to 821. "All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ: They therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."

I can share with you my experience of God as a Catholic but I would rather stay away from Apologetics or debating specific doctrines. Not because I do not think it is important but rather because I am the mom of 3 smalls kids and find that draining and usually fruitless. I am well aware of Chick publications and similar publishers and have read them all. Jeff Cavins was a evangelical minister for 12 years prior to being a Catholic. He has a couple of excellent books. Also,
www.catholic.com fully answers all questions/debates regarding the Catholic faith. No sense in repeating or hashing through what is already out there.

And here is my reply:

Thanks for your response and for sharing some of your background. I'm right there with you in not having the time or desire to debate apologetics when you have small children in the house. But I do enjoy talking and thinking about these kind of issues (in small doses) as I find it strengthens my own knowledge of the Word and my faith.

You are absolutely right, there are many nominal evangelicals also. I hope it doesn't appear that I am just picking on the Catholics as there are many Protestant denominations that have what I would consider major issues. But I do still disagree with many Catholic doctrines and have a "general distrust" based on my own upbringing and current experiences. It also seems that the Catholic doctrines change over time as I know that at some point in history the Catholic Church taught that no one could be saved outside the Church. When the doctrines seem to change over time, it is easy for someone who disagrees with Catholicism to bring up an issue with a particular doctrine that is quickly dismissed b/c the doctrine is no longer followed. That is where I tend to get frustrated.

I am glad that you have a relationship with the Lord and hope that your knowledge and love for the Lord can grow in the Church you are in. That would not have been possible for me in the Catholic Church but that is me. And thank you for sharing with me your opinions and experiences as a "mature" Catholic who has a different perspective than I have as a formally "nominal" Catholic. I still feel the same as when I wrote my original "Recovering Catholic" post but I am encouraged that there are women like you (and some others who commented previously) who are willing to discuss their faith without being defensive or antagonistic.

Beth gave me a few things to think about although as I said in my reply, my stance on the Catholic church is still the same. I will post some of my thoughts in another post.

Thanks to Beth for contacting me to give me her insight and for allowing me to post her emails!

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