Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Real Difference Between Catholics and Protestants

I have had many, many, many different conversations with Catholics and Protestants alike, and I have found, what I believe to be the one true difference between Catholics and Protestants.

Is it that Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception or the Communion of Saints?  Is it that Protestants believe in once saved always saved, or the total depravity of man?  Is it that Catholics do not believe in Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide?  Is it that Protestants do not believe in Purgatory or confessing their sins to a priest?  Is it that Catholics have added books to the Bible?  Is it that Protestants have removed books from the Bible?

No, no, no, no, no.  Now I am sure that I am going to say some things that may warrant correction, but I am going to say them anyways.  I have met plenty of Catholics who do not believe in Papal Infallability or the Immaculate Conception.  I have also met plenty of Protestants who do not believe in once saved always saved, or total depravity.  There are as many different types of Catholics as there are Protestant denominations.  Some Catholics have abortions, contracept, and go completely against many of the moral teachings of the Church that they professed was instituted by Jesus Christ.  Shame on us.

So what is the real difference?  The real difference is access to the Sacraments.  Plain and simple.  Catholics have access to all of the Sacraments, and Protestants do not.  The 7 Sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (Communion), Reconciliation, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Annointing of the Sick.  Catholics can sin with the best of them, and unfortunately we often do.  However, the Catholic Church is the only qualified institution on Earth who has the means to administer the Sacraments to it's people. 

The Sacraments were instituted by Christ Himself, and do not only belong to Catholics, but they belong to the whole Christian people.  All of the followers of Christ should partake in all that Christ had in store for us.  The funny thing about it is, as far as I see it, there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of a Non Catholic experiencing the Sacraments.  The Catholic Church is full of Catholics who have trouble with many of the Church's teaching, the only difference is that they are struggling with the teachings from inside, where they do have access to God's Grace through the Sacraments, while our Non-Catholic brothers and sisters are struggling with teachings outside of the faith, without access to the Sacraments.

What would Christian Unity look like? What kind of Holy Force would that be to the world?  I don't know what that would look like, but I do know that it would be awesome.  Let us all pray, Catholics and Non Catholics, for the day when the Body of Christ, the Family of God is no longer torn apart.  Let us pray for the day when all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, reunite as a family, come together to the one table and celebrate God together.

God bless...

20 comments:

Gregory said...

Hey Carlus,
I just wanted to drop in and say thanks for your comment at Barque of Peter.

I'm glad you're making the journey across the Tiber, and that I was able to help in some small way.

God bless
Gregory

Owen said...

That, the Sacraments, are the primary reason my family and I converted - or as I prefer to say, reconciled with the Church (I was already a convert to Christ since age 19 what I did was reconcile myself with the teachings of the Catholic Church).

Unity is something to be sought and prayed for and worked towards. What I wonder is is it actually possible this side of heaven? Catholic Christians are not going to surrender the core teachings of the Church on the Sacraments - at least I pray not and should it ever happen we cease to be Catholic. Meanwhile I find it doubtful that multitude of protestant sects would agree with teachings of the Church on the Sacraments to the point where they wish to end their self imposed separation and come into unity with Jesus teachings on the Sacraments which he instituted.

I pray and long for unity. I brought myself into unity even as increasing numbers of protestants from all sects are doing in these days but complete unity seems beyond us.

Excellent post, as usual.

Christian said...

Gosh, Carlus. I wish it were that simple.

As a Christian who is an ex-Roman Catholic and then later an ex-Protestant I see it a bit differently. Fortunately, in many respects, they are quite similar. Unfortunately, in many other respects they are also quite similar.

Just as the Puritans came to America to escape religious persecution only to turn around and persecute others, many of the characteristics that Protestants found disagreeable with Roman Catholicism they eventually took on themselves.

In both camps there are strident opponents to anything ecumenical. Thankfully Catholic and mainline Protestant leadership is heading towards a more unified direction. Much to the chagrin of their hardliners. And they are showing that this can be done without compromising their values. We need to emphasize what we have in common as believers, not where we differ (not that this is at all what you are doing, btw but I think you are familiar with the this negative practice)

As far as the sacraments go, even all Catholics cannot partake of all seven, can they?

Carlus Henry said...

Christian,

You seem to be very frustrated with organized religion as a whole. I would love to hear more from you about that.

You are right in many of the things that you said, of course. The Body of Christ is divided, and it is a shame. That shame rests on many shoulders on both sides of the aisle.


As far as the sacraments go, even all Catholics cannot partake of all seven, can they?


You are right. Most Catholics will not partake in all 7. The difference that I am trying to show is not that we will have all 7, but Catholics have access to 7 valid sacraments. That cannot be found anywhere but inside of the Catholic Church.

God bless you on your journey.

Christian said...

Carlus, if my memory serves me correctly the seven are:

Baptism
Confession
Holy Eucharist
Confirmation
Marriage
Holy Orders
Last Rites

Now, in some way I think most of the Protestants would say that they have access, in some way or another, to all of these sacraments. What each one means to each denomination might cause some debate.

As for myself, I am married, baptized, have confirmed my faith, confess my sins daily and partake of communion almost weekly. I assume ordination is not in my future and hope to put off the last rites as long as possible.

Where we might disagree is not over things like transubstatiation or whether or not an infant can truly be baptized (where much dissent among believers seems to lie) but whether I need the assistance of a priest or vicar to partake in the sacraments (which I fervently believe I do not). This is something that even quite a few Protestant denominations are very "Catholic" about. (I have a close friend who has been an ordained Roman Catholic priest for over 40 years and he and I tend to agree quite about on this)

I am not really frustrated with organized religion as I have been able to (finally) step a way from it. When a part of it, as a member of the Roman Catholic or, later, the Methodist tradition, I was rather frustrated. That being said, even though I think that all denominations are burdened with much unnecessary baggage which tends to divert one's focus away from Christ and his teachings, I have come to finally appreciate what it is that the Roman Catholic church has to offer and see that it helps millions of people access the sacred.

But as the Buddha said (I like him too) religion is like a raft that helps one cross the river of life towards enlightenment. Once one has crossed then the raft no longer needed and is best left behind, or else it tends to slow one's journey down. That has definitely been my experience.

Religion, distilled to it's purest form, is often miraculous. But, how often do we see this?

Christian said...

Carlus, if my memory serves me correctly the seven are:

Baptism
Confession
Holy Eucharist
Confirmation
Marriage
Holy Orders
Last Rites

Now, in some way I think most of the Protestants would say that they have access, in some way or another, to all of these sacraments. What each one means to each denomination might cause some debate.

As for myself, I am married, baptized, have confirmed my faith, confess my sins daily and partake of communion almost weekly. I assume ordination is not in my future and hope to put off the last rites as long as possible.

Where we might disagree is not over things like transubstatiation or whether or not an infant can truly be baptized (where much dissent among believers seems to lie) but whether I need the assistance of a priest or vicar to partake in the sacraments (which I fervently believe I do not). This is something that even quite a few Protestant denominations are very "Catholic" about. (I have a close friend who has been an ordained Roman Catholic priest for over 40 years and he and I tend to agree quite about on this)

I am not really frustrated with organized religion as I have been able to (finally) step a way from it. When a part of it, as a member of the Roman Catholic or, later, the Methodist tradition, I was rather frustrated. That being said, even though I think that all denominations are burdened with much unnecessary baggage which tends to divert one's focus away from Christ and his teachings, I have come to finally appreciate what it is that the Roman Catholic church has to offer and see that it helps millions of people access the sacred.

But as the Buddha said (I like him too) religion is like a raft that helps one cross the river of life towards enlightenment. Once one has crossed then the raft no longer needed and is best left behind, or else it tends to slow one's journey down. That has definitely been my experience.

Religion, distilled to it's purest form, is often miraculous. But, how often do we see this?

Carlus Henry said...

Christian,

What each one means to each denomination might cause some debate.

So, do they have access to them or not? This is a good question. As you may or may not know, Catholics recognize One Baptism. So that means that if you are baptized outside of the Catholic Church, when you join, you don't have to get re-Baptized again. This is even if you don't feel that Baptism was the same thing that Catholics believed or not. As far as I know, this is the only Sacrament that is like this.

Non-Catholics have access to these Sacraments? Let us suppose that you are right. It would still be important to show that if they do have access to those sacraments, on whose authority do they have it? This goes back to my point as the Catholic Church being the only qualified institution to administer the Sacraments. They are the only qualified institution because their authority is the only one that can be traced back to Jesus Christ Himself.

Christian, you have been kind, please do not take my comment above as insulting. That is not the way that I mean it at all.

but whether I need the assistance of a priest or vicar to partake in the sacraments (which I fervently believe I do not).

I would like to hear more about this.

I am not really frustrated with organized religion as I have been able to (finally) step a way from it.
Still curious as what made you step away from it. I have not been to your blog as of yet, but I do plan on visiting.

Once one has crossed then the raft no longer needed and is best left behind, or else it tends to slow one's journey down. That has definitely been my experience.

What about all of the other people on the raft? Or all of the other people that you left on the shore? Shouldn't you pedal as fast as you can in order to help the other people as well. Enlightenment is not just a personal relationship, it is a communal one. We are to build each other up. I am my brother's keeper and all of that good stuff.

Overall, seem to be a true seeker of Christ. I do not doubt that at all. I will pray for you brother as I hope that you will pray for me as we are both on our journey to know and understand Truth, which is Christ Jesus.

God bless...

Christian said...

"please do not take my comment above as insulting""

Have no fear Carlus. Having followed your conversations over the past couple of weeks,I've gotten a pretty good handle on your rhetorical style and find that you are very forgiving and earnestly interested in what others have to say, not in just putting forth any religious agenda.
[Both of us have had our fingers nipped by the occasional fundamentalist pit bulls. :)]

I believe that the Catholic church does have a certain amount of authority, as I believe that other people who have intentionally followed the teachings of Christ have demonstrated their authority as well. I think that it must always be consistent with the Gospel.

I don't however, think that there is any need for priestly intercession on our part as we deal with God. Just as it is possible for the traditional religious ritual, either it be Catholic or Protestant, to be meaningless because the person does not have their heart in it, I believe it is just as possible for the true believer to encounter and embrace the sacred alone. For example; I do not believe (in spite of John Paul II's fairly recent statement) that I need a priest's influence for God to forgive (or absolve) my sins. I see nothing outside of Catholic tradition to support this premise. That being said, I think the act of confession can be a tremendous spiritually healing act.

"What about all of the other people on the raft?"

And that, my friend is a wonderful question. To play devil's advocate against myself, what about all those on the other side who have yet to step on to the raft?

This is a great example of how all analogies are imperfect, especially if we look at this particular Eastern metaphor from a Western perspective. But what if we give the metaphor a Western twist? Perhaps this where personal vocations come into play. Those who feel called to remain on the raft and continue to assist in ferrying people across might become the priests, the nuns, the brothers, the pastors and the lay leaders who work within the organized Church. But even those people, the clergy, may find their journeys bogging down, if they do not take the occasional sabbatical. Religion can be so binding.

I think Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning - at one time all Catholic thinkers - speak to this. And we can't forget Brother Lawrence, who eschewed the pulpit and the sanctuary and "preached" from the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Carlus,

Just a quick blurb on your comment on baptism. The Catholic church does recognize batisms performed in other denominations as long as they are performed in the trinitarian formula (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

God Bless : )

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

That is a great point. It actually came up in a discussion that I was having with a friend of mine. If Baptism is accepted in Non-Catholic traditions, are the other Sacraments that are performed accepted as well?

In other words, Catholics believe that the Sacraments are performed in the Catholic Church by the successors of the Apostles. We also believe that the Sacrament of Baptism, regardless if you are in the Catholic Church or not, is still accepted and recognized. Why just Baptism? What about the other ones?

Carlus Henry said...

Christian,

I don't however, think that there is any need for priestly intercession on our part as we deal with God.

Just so I can understand better, you don't think that there is a need for priestly intercession as we deal with God, in what context? We pray to God all of the time, with or without a priest. I am sure that this is not what you meant by needing priestly intercession.

Just as it is possible for the traditional religious ritual, either it be Catholic or Protestant, to be meaningless because the person does not have their heart in it...

How true, and how unfortunate really.

I believe it is just as possible for the true believer to encounter and embrace the sacred alone.

True again. I don't think that you have stated anything that I don't agree with.

I do not believe (in spite of John Paul II's fairly recent statement) that I need a priest's influence for God to forgive (or absolve) my sins...

Hmmm. Since the Decree on Ecumenism...which I have been referencing a lot lately :), and the Church says that salvation does not escape people outside of the Catholic Church - I would agree with your statement. The only way to heaven is if God forgives us our sins. Therefore, if the Church says that God does forgive the sins of people outside of the Church that do not have access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I would have to say that you are absolutely right. I would be curious as to what you are referring to when you mention what JP2 stated. I would like to better understand what he was saying.

I see nothing outside of Catholic tradition to support this premise.

What do you mean when you say Catholic tradition?

Religion can be so binding.

Help me understand this statement as well. In what regard is Religion binding? I would tend to see it more as liberating.

God bless...

Belteshazzar Mouse said...

Great discussion. Here are some of my thoughts, mixed in with genuine Catholic teachings.

Baptism
-Confession-Reconciliation
Holy Eucharist
Confirmation
Marriage
Holy Orders
-Last Rites- Annointing of the Sick

My strikeouts are small, yet important distinctions. We Catholics did call the sacrament Confession, however, it is not about confessing to a priest, it is about reconciling. We need to reconcile ourselves with the community we have hurt with our sin. Christian is right in that we do not need a priest's intercession for God's forgiveness. We as humans, however, do need another human to recognize that we are sorry and we need to hear that we are forgiven from another human, a representative of the Christian community. I get the feeling that is why Christian finds this such a healing act. An example: my spouse knows I love her, but she still needs to hear it (several times a day!)

I am kind of repeating myself from other comments, but Catholics believe in sign, just as Jesus practiced and gave us outward signs of his love. A Sacrament is an outward sign of something that God has already done, and a person has accepted. It is an important part of being in Christian community to recognize and celebrate this. This is what makes it wonderful, important and necessary.

Back to my last strikeout. Annointing of the Sick is a Sacrament of healing and can be received anytime healing is required. It is not limited to the dying. The Latin "Extreme Unction" was often confused as "Last Rights" It is the final Eucharist given to a dying person during Annointing.

Marriage from protestant denominations and faiths is also recognized, I believe, depending on some conditions. That is because the priest does not perform the marriage, the participants do. Did you know priests at a Marriage ceremony is a relatively new tradition? A priest friend of mine likes to say that the priests realized they were missing a good party and invited themselves. 8^)

Some Holy Orders are accepted when the person converts to Catholicism, given some restrictions. I know of some priests retaining their Holy Orders when they converted to Catholicism. I do not know the particulars here or if there is a process for "transferring" (for lack of a better word) the Holy Order. (And yes, there are married priests in the Catholic Church, though the number is small in the Roman Rite. It is common in some other Rites that do recognize Papal Authority.)

Reconciliation? I am not sure about that. My guess is that since reconciliation for minor sins does not require a priest anyway, even in the Catholic Church, it is recognized. Anyone converting to Catholicism would go through Catholic Reconciliation at some time, so the point is really moot here in my humble opinion.

Eucharist? I could write a long post on this alone (and this one is getting longer by the minute...) and not do it justice. I will say no, except under some very special conditions and leave it at that.

The only one I can say, in my mind, exclusively belongs to the Catholic Church is Confirmation, if only by its nature of confirming the beliefs of the Catholic Church. I do also firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is present and working in many of my non-catholic friends (I do consider our humble host Catholic 8^).

I have tried my best in this post to acknowledge my beliefs and separate them from Catholic teachings as I understand them. I will be happy to clarify and formalize any of these informal thoughts and comments.

Bible Believing Scholar said...

Man... Can anyone answer me this one? I love how in the article thing, blog, whatever you wrote there was absolutely no Biblical evidence provided for the notion (you so firmly spoke about) that Catholics are the only ones who can do this or that and blah blah blah. I'd love to know what you say is true, but I'd like for it to be backed up by scripture. If websites and "holy", ancient man-written manuscripts are all we have as evidence, then what is to keep me from saying Protestants have just as much the right to carry out the same ordinances and rights to "their followers" (which they would claim they don't have b/c they claim faith as an individual journey). What I am finding is both sides are hypocritical, with a few on both sides siding in the middle, which is where I'm finding to be the truth in my own spiritual journey. Catholics are too legalistic, something Christ in the gospels demoted, and Protestants holding to grace as a get out of hell free card and saying that it covers them (which I believe is true) but then living the "unbelieving lifestyle"... Somewhere there's a middle ground that seems to be winning my life over. Someone prove me wrong. (But only use scripture to back it up, b/c that SHOULD be EVERY Christian's primary source of truth and evidence for their beliefs...)

Carlus Henry said...

Bible Believing Scholar,

God bless you....

Believe it or not, if I would have come across this blog post about a year ago, I would have felt the same way that you feel. I would have shared your sentiments on so many levels. I welcome you to the my blog and to the conversation.

In your comment, you are asking someone to prove you wrong. I really don't believe that there is anything to prove you wrong about. Instead, I think what may be required is a change of perspective.

You feel that the Catholic faith is too legalistic. I would love to dive into this more. What do you mean by legalistic? What specifically are you calling legalistic?

I am a father. As a father, it is my responsibility to instruct my children in the way that they should go. I give them rules to follow. One of my children may have the perspective that these rules are too legalistic. Who am I to tell him how to live his life? Another one of my children may see that I have nothing but his best interest in mind. I am giving him rules and instruction for his benefit so that he may have a more fruitful life. This is what I mean by perspective.

You also mention that Catholics demote Christ. Nothing can be further than the truth. How do you see Catholics demoting Christ?

You also mention that Scripture SHOULD be EVERY Christian's primary source of truth and evidence for their beliefs. Why do you feel this way?

Looking forward to hearing from you...

God bless...

Bible Believing Scholar said...

Well I would define legalistic as something that would limit grace to being something that is one of the factors in salvation. As I read in the Bible, grace through faith not of works is the way we get saved. Me not partaking of communion or not getting baptized or doing these things through some other administration like another Orthodox, Protestant, or Non-denominational church I don't view as sinful (as for what I read in the Bible). That's legalism to me. While the Bible sets out rules that God expects us to follow, grace covers all so I don't feel like I have to do something or someone else has to do something to aid God in forgiving me my sins (something I believe by reading the Bible he does on his own) through the death and resurrection of his Son.

The other thing I said about Catholics demoting Christ may have been unclear. Undoubtedly you can't call yourself a believer in Christ the Messiah by denying him as Lord and Savior. By demoting, I think what I mean is that (from what I know about the Catholic church, so correct me if I'm wrong) Catholic's add to the salvation process by legalizing faith into a faith + works = salvation process, which I find far from the truth. The Bible says that all we must do is believe in our hearts and confess him as Lord. Now, maybe that isn't the case, however I do think (as I stated) both sides are flawed. I admire Catholics for the faithfulness to their faith. While I don't agree with them near as much, I do think that Catholics are a lot less hypocritical than Protestants, which disturbs me. Its almost like I feel the Catholics have the right mindset, and the Protestants the right doctrine...and since they are separated they are useless for the kingdom, but combined how strong they can be! I just think that the whole Christ plus this or that thing isn't biblical. That's all I mean by demoting.

Then the last question you asked me actually disturbed me, if you don't mind me saying. I was with you for awhile, but the last question...man, struck me odd. For a person like me who is still young and growing as a believer, I look to the Bible as my only fully reliant source! What else can I believe that God would find me favorably looking upon? The warning given out in Revelation about adding onto the Word frightens me, so why should I not rely on the Word all the time? I have to if Christ is going to be my foundation. In the beginning of the 4th gospel, John even proclaims that Jesus is the Word. For me to take from him or add on adds on or takes away from the very foundation of my faith. I can't afford to do that. Besides, 2nd Timothy 3:16 says that all the word is God-breathed and is (paraphrasing) all I need to need to discern my world around me. I can't compromise the Word and call myself a Christian. That's denying my Maker and Savior, which is punishable by eternal death according to Matthew 10:33...

So absolutely, I think the Bible should be your only source of anything concerning Christ. And if we seek other counsel, make sure that their main source is the Bible as well...

Carlus Henry said...

Bible Believing Scholar,

Before I begin, let me first commend you. Something that you said really caught me off guard. You mentioned that you are a young believer. I would not have guessed that. You speak with such conviction. That is awesome. Thanks to people like you in the faith, who start off on fire and hopefully keep the embers burning, my outlook on Christianity is brighter than before.

Where to go from here? I could take this time try to explain to you what Catholics really believe, as oppose to what you have heard. I could also try to explain to you what I meant by questioning the Bible as the primary source for authority. That is the problem with this blog stuff. It can hinder communication.

Let's take things one at a time, for as long as I can.

You said:

Well I would define legalistic as something that would limit grace to being something that is one of the factors in salvation.

I don't think that any Christian would limit grace by any means. I don't know any Catholics that do it, and I don't know of any Protestants that do it.

We are all called, as Christians to be obedient to Christ. If He said in John 3 that we must be born again if we want to see the Kingdom of God, then it is our obligation to know what he meant, and to comply. I would argue, that this is in reference to baptism, but that is not the focus of this conversation.

He also told us that we must Eat his flesh and drink His blood, or we will not have life within us in John 6. It is imperative on the obedience of faith to know what He meant by this.

I am telling you these things in order to show you that what you are interpreting as legalistic is not legalistic at all. It is instead being obedient to Christ. If we love Jesus Christ, we will obey his commandments John 14:15

While the Bible sets out rules that God expects us to follow, grace covers all so I don't feel like I have to do something or someone else has to do something to aid God in forgiving me my sins (something I believe by reading the Bible he does on his own) through the death and resurrection of his Son.

This statement is based on the idea that the rules are all man-made. If the rules are man-made, then you, as a Christian are not obliged to be obedient. Instead, if they are from Christ, then we have to be obedient - wouldn't you agree?

(from what I know about the Catholic church, so correct me if I'm wrong) Catholic's add to the salvation process by legalizing faith into a faith + works = salvation process, which I find far from the truth.

Yes. The faith alone vs. the faith and works. I don't think that I can do this topic justice here, but it is something that I have posted on in the past. Please feel free to look at this post Understanding Catholic Teaching: Faith and Works. As you will see, there has been plenty of discussion following that post.

The Bible says that all we must do is believe in our hearts and confess him as Lord.

Amen. The Bible does say that we need to believe. When it says believe, I understand it to mean that we are to take Him seriously and do whatever he asks.

In both of your comments, you made mention of not agreeing with Catholics but also being put off with Protestants. Don't be too hard on us. We are all sinners. I think that one of the most missed lessons of our Lord is the fact that He chose Judas. He knew that Judas would betray Him, yet He chose him anyways. The missed lesson is that the Church will not be made of saints. It is made up of sinners. It is a hospital for the sick, not a luxury resort for the perfect. Don't be too hard on your Protestant and Catholic brothers and sisters. Pray for us.

and since they are separated they are useless for the kingdom, but combined how strong they can be!

John 17:20-26. We are pathetic. We have torn apart God's Church. We have built different churches based on the tradition of men. Now of course, what God creates, does not disappear. We dare not say that the Lords prayer in the Garden was not effective. His Church still exists, and it is very obvious. So obvious that you cannot miss it. No matter if you agree with it or not, you cannot ignore it and it's prescence. (sorry, I couldn't help it)

I look to the Bible as my only fully reliant source!

Why? You are a young Christian, but a responsible one. You must have a valid reason for believing the Bible as your only fully reliant source. What is it?

What else can I believe that God would find me favorably looking upon?

His Church. After all, that is what the Bible says.

Matt 18:17-18. Here Jesus shows us that it is not Scripture that has the ultimate authority, instead it is the Church.

2nd Timothy 3:16 says that all the word is God-breathed and is (paraphrasing)

I completely agree with that scripture passage. It is the Word of God. At the same time, it says nothing about the scriptures being the only authority.

So absolutely, I think the Bible should be your only source of anything concerning Christ. And if we seek other counsel, make sure that their main source is the Bible as well...

All teachings will comply with the Word of God. There should never be anything that is contradictory. If there is, then the faith is not accurate.

Of course, the challenge is, that we must make sure that we are interpreting the scriptures correctly.

God bless you brother / sister...

Bible Believing Scholar said...

The only remarks I would really have about your last post is that while I think that the church is instituted by God in order that we may fellowship with other believers and maintain accountability, I think that the Bible has to be our primary source that the church is run by. I understand baptism and communion as sacraments, but it is others that I question. I think man-made tradition is dangerous, and that the church and its leaders must look to the Bible for answers.

The faith plus works thing I read, and I think I understand it a little better. I don't think that works is something you NEED for salvation, but rather a fruit of spiritual growth. While fruit is necessary, I don't think that when the word says faith without works is dead, it means you can't be a Christian and not be producing fruit. I think it means two things. One, if you are a Christian, at some point in your life you will produce fruit. Two, if you are a Christian who has fallen away from Christ then you won't produce fruit and your faith is currently in a defeated and deadly state. You have not lost your salvation, but you are not growing in the manor God intended you to.

Good discussion I think... No major discrepancies as of yet, disagreements with deep but not condescending exchanges in views, and I understand Catholicism a little better I think. I do know that I still view a few things differently, but I'm not quite sure yet if any of the major doctrines I believe hold true to the Word of God have been crossed by what you say Catholics believe.

Btw, it is brother in Christ.

Carlus Henry said...

Bible Believing Scholar,

Hey brother. ;)

Only a couple of comments:

I think man-made tradition is dangerous

I completely 100% agree. So what is the difference between a man-made tradition and an actual commandment from God? The first one we are not obligated to obey. Heck, we are not even obligated to believe. The second, not only are we obligated to obey, but we are also obligated to believe. I think that you would agree with me.

So, the challenge is for us to be able to distinguish the difference. What is a man-made tradition and what is not. Is baptism a commandment from God, or is it not? Is communion a commandment from God, or is it not? Is an infallible Church, a man-made tradition or is it not? Is the belief of Scripture Alone a man-made tradition or is it not? These are the types of questions that we must answer, in order to have the faith fully.

Your second paragraph hits on a two different topics. One is faith and works while the other is Eternal Security, or an Assurance of Salvation. For the Assurance of Salvation, I do have another blogpost, where I discuss that belief. You can find the post Do you have an Assurance of Salvation?. Regarding the faith and works, of course we disagree, but I don't know if it is worth re-iterating what you have already read in my post. If you are interested in discussing that further, let me know.

Good discussion? How about great discussion!!! Of course we have different views, and I would love to dive into any of those views further, if you are interested.

Just so you know. I was not always a Catholic. As a matter of fact, I am not officially a Catholic until April 11th of this year. I have recently started the journey home to the Catholic faith within the past year. Trust me, being Catholic is something that I never thought that I would ever be. It is also something that I did not just jump into either. I spent a lot of time reading Scriptures, praying, and reading about the history of the Christian faith in order to see if the Catholic claim had any weight whatsoever. What I found was that it does.

For example, during my Christian life, I have always held on to the Scriptures as the sole authority of the faith. What I never asked myself was why do I hold on to that belief. Do I hold on to it because that is what the Bible says of itself? I used to read into the scriptures that belief, but then I looked at the same passage that you shared with me, and saw that it said nothing about Scriptures being the sole rule of faith. Then, what about all of those Christians who lived before the books of the Bible were even put together officially in 382? Would they have thought that the Scriptures, even though they never saw a complete work of it, was the sole rule of the faith? Think of it...almost 400 years since the death of Christ, and there was not an official New Testament canon.

That started to get me to think about if they did not believe in Sola Scriptura, then what did they believe? If we Protestants were squabbling about things like infant baptism vs. believer's baptism, who else would better be in a position to interpret the Scriptures than those who wrote it, and those who learned at their feet. I started to learn more and more about the Early Church, and was amazed at how different it was to my Protestant Church.

The rest, is history. If you have never studied or heard of anything from the first century in the Early Church, I would at least recommend to you watching a video that I shared on my blog. You can find it under a post titled Pure Christianity. Let me know what you think...

God bless you brother on your journey of faith. Pray for me and I will pray for you.

Bible Believing Scholar said...

Alright. Not to disagree with you...again...lol. But, I read the blog about the Assurance of Salvation, and I think that the context comment you made was brilliant. In fact it was something I have been looking into. The Bible is more than just God's Word, but also a story, meant to be read from beginning to end in that order. Saying that, I think that it's so critical then to note that the chapters you pull out of are toward the end of the Holy text. I think that salvation also comes in two parts, but not quite the same as yours. I once heard a pastor put it like this. There are to types of salvations: positional and progressive. Positional never changes... The Gospels, Acts, Romans, the early books written by Paul have to do with positional faith and salvation. I think the church fathers did this on purpose. It's important after reading the word and understanding about the gift of God that you know for sure you're saved. Most people were saved on things like the Gospels or the "Roman's Road" which are great evangelical tactics to display to a nonbeliever the Truth. But as you dive deeper into the New Testament, you find deeper spiritual things. With each book! In fact, I'd say that Mark and John are the two easiest books to interpret in the entire New Testament and Hebrews, The Three Letters of John, and Revelation may be the hardest. The fact that the two easier are towards the beginning and the harder (and hardest) at the end is not coincidental to me. I think that the Holy Spirit was definitely behind the order of the 66 books, esp. the New Testament. In saying that, I think the first few books deal with positional salvation, while the later books would deal with progressive. Anytime where there is speaking of maturity, you may see salvation in there somewhere. The pastor who talked to me about this explained, this is progressive salvation. We as Christians are being perfected in the faith, and while can not be perfect on earth, can be (and will be) once we reach Heaven. I think that progressive salvation deals with our sinful bodies and our spiritual battle with them, as well as other worldly things, as we progress as Christians into eternal salvation. But yeah, that's just how I found it best presented.

Carlus Henry said...

Bible Believing Scholar,

Just a housekeeping rule, if there is a particular topic that you want to discuss, like the Assurance of Salvation or anything that I have posted on, I want to encourage you to comment in that section. This is just in case some day, someone would like to read more about the topic, then everything would be within it's own category.

I think that the context comment you made was brilliant

Wow!!! Thanks for the compliment. It is unfortunate, but I have attended many churches that was good at just plucking a verse out of the Bible, as if it was a collection of raffle tickets, and applying it to whatever situation that was currently going on. Not all of the Non-Catholic churches that I belong to did this, but I have seen it done more than once.

The Bible is more than just God's Word, but also a story, meant to be read from beginning to end in that order.

The order of the books, especially the Old Testament, was not necessarily organized to be read in that order. Instead, they are actually grouped by writing styles. Heck, they are not even chronological. You got me on the New Testament. We do know that the New Testament books are also not written chronologically, but I don't know how they are ordered.

There are to types of salvations: positional and progressive...the church fathers...The pastor who talked to me about this

I would love to talk to the pastor that talked to you about this. To be honest, this is the first time that I have ever heard of two types of salvation. Let us assume that there are two types of salvation at the moment...

How important is salvation to the Christian? Of course it is the most important thing. We desire nothing more than to live in eternity with Christ. If this is the case, then the Apostles mission to teach the good news, would have included the way to salvation. Not only that, but they would have taught their followers, and those followers would have taught those followers, the way to salvation. This is the Christian legacy after all passed from generation to generation. If this is the case, then if there were two types of salvation, wouldn't there be some record of it? If not recorded in the Holy Scriptures, wouldn't it be recorded by the Early Church Fathers or somewhere in history? Have you seen any evidence of this kind of rationale in the Scriptures or preached by the Church Fathers?

You mention that two types of salvation, one being positional and the other being progressive. Believe it or not, this is a very Catholic belief. Not the fact that they are separated, but instead we are to progress and grow in our faith. We believe that the progression and growth in our faith, is also part of our salvation. We are to be made perfect - not by our own doing, but by the Holy Spirit. That is why he is called the Sanctifyer, because is making us holy (perfect). If we are not made perfect on this side of eternity, we will be made perfect on the other side of eternity. In Hebrews, we find:

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.Hebrews 12:14

The way that I see this scripture verse is that it is talking about the progressive state of salvation. Becoming perfect, or holy. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Meaning we have to be perfect and we have to be holy. Not only do we need to accept Christ, but we have to strive/persevere (make every effort) for perfection. Without the perfection, then we will not see God. Well, when will we see God? When we get to heaven.

(Probably worth mentioning at this point, that a state of perfection as I am describing it, is a state of holiness.)

In other words, there aren't necessarily two types of salvation, but salvation has different aspects to it. It is all one salvation. Just like Jesus Christ is not two persons (human and divine), he is one person with two natures. There is an initial salvation, which I believe occurs at baptism, then there is the progressive salvation to holiness which I believe occurs over a lifetime. Both of them are important. You can't really have one over and above the other one because we know that you need to accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. We also can see in Hebrews that we need to strive for holiness if we want to see God.

For this reason, that is why salvation in these scripture passages are not demoted to something that only occurs in the past, but instead it is an ongoing process by the Holy Spirit.

God bless you...