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

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!

1 comment:

Elena said...

"I know that at some point in history the Catholic Church taught that no one could be saved outside the Church."

It still teaches that. Catechism Catholic Church 845 - 846:
"Outside the Church there is no salvation"

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

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