Thursday, June 25, 2009

Denominations : Is it our fault?

Ever since I started this new journey of faith, which eventually led me to the Roman Catholic Church, I have had the opportunity to talk to many people who cling to various faith traditions.  They have been Baptists, Christian Reformed, Pentecostals, Agnostics, Non-Denominatonals, and of course Catholic.  Some of these experiences have been great, including great conversation and dialogue, while others have not been so fruitful, which have included personal insults and damaged potential relationships.  Even though some of the experiences have been less than optimal, I am still very interested in continuing conversation with my Non-Catholic and even Non-Christian brothers and sisters, because I believe that Truth is completely worth it.

Not too long ago, I had a very good conversation with my friend who was raised Baptist.  He has been with me through a great deal of my experience in joining the Catholic Church.  He is not Catholic, but like me, loves to discuss things of God.  During this discussion, which was a very polite exchange of ideas, we started to discuss the Protestant Reformation, and the divisions that it has caused throughout the Body of Christ - which is His Church.  He made the argument that the reason why we are in the predicament that we are in (with 30,000 different denominations) is because of the Catholic Church.  He stressed that the state of the Church was horrible, and it is going to be up to the Catholic Church and Catholics to fix it.

There is no doubt that during the time of the Protestant Reformation, the state of affairs of the Church were less than desirable.  At the same time, is it really a logical stance to think that it is up to Catholics to fix the mess that we are in?  Immediately, I went on the defensive and suggested that Protestants and Catholics are going to have to work together if we are ever going to restore the Church to the unified body that it was intended to be.  We should not put aside our differences, but work through them one by one and at least come to a better understanding of each other and why we believe what we believe.

However, later on, I reflected more on what my friend said.  I think that he has a point.  In many ways, it is going to be up to Catholics in order to fix the divisions that exist among the Christian Community.  Is it solely our responsibility?  No, but a great deal of it will and does fall on our shoulders.  Thinking back to the Early Church, what was it that caused the conversion of a whole pagan empire to Christianity?  It was the very witness of the Christians who sang songs and hymns while being burned at the stake or devoured by lions.  The many spectators may have thought that the Christians were crazy, but they did not doubt that the Christians believed exactly what they said they believed.  I wish that the world could look at us Catholics and say the same thing today.

After listening to one of Fr. John Riccardo's talks, he mentioned a Catholic study that was taken by Georgetown University.  In this study, there are many statistics regarding Catholics and what they really believe.  Here are just some of the unfortunate statistics:

- 23% of Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis
- Of those asked why they missed Mass at least once in the past 6 months, most reported that it was due to their busy schedule or lack of time
- Of the Catholics who attend Mass on a weekly basis, 39% of us go to confession less than once a year, if  ever

If we truly believed that Christ is Lord and Savior, and that we can go and meet Him every Sunday, heck every day for that matter, why don't we?  If we truly believed that through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God will forgive our sins, why don't we go?  What kind of a witness are we being to our Non-Catholic and / or Non-Christian brothers and sisters?  As Catholics, do we truly carry a heavier load of responsibility to heal the divisions that exist within the Church?

Thoughts?

4 comments:

born4battle said...

I wouldn't call on an apostate religion to fix anything.....

The entire Catholics & Protestants together gig is rather a mess.....they do not share the same Gospel. Works-righteousness is a perversion of the true Gospel, not matter what 'flavor'.

Carlus Henry said...

born4battle,

I wouldn't call on an apostate religion to fix anything.....


Neither would I. That is why I said that the Catholic Church should fix it.

Works-righteousness is a perversion of the true Gospel, not matter what 'flavor'.


Amen!!! I am glad that you and I do not disagree on this matter, and that we have enough sense not to be a part of a church that promotes such a blasphemy.

God bless...

born4battle said...

Perhaps I should clarify a bit...I am not sure how we are in agreement, Carlus.

A doctrine that holds that human works, in any form, contribute to our salvation (which is totally by grace through faith,and not of works), or our justification before God (which is by Christ's finished work on the Cross) is scripturally a false doctrine, and a sign of apostasy, are departure from the true Gospel of the Bible.

That we can be, and are to an extent, justified before men by our works, is a biblical principal found in James, Chapter 2.

I must have been confusing in my earlier comment.

Carlus Henry said...

born4battle,

A doctrine that holds that human works, in any form, contribute to our salvation (which is totally by grace through faith,and not of works), or our justification before God (which is by Christ's finished work on the Cross) is scripturally a false doctrine, and a sign of apostasy, are departure from the true Gospel of the Bible.

Before I start to agree and disagree with what you are saying, it is important to be clear on what you are saying...exactly.

It sounds as though you are making the following points (please preface the points with "Scripturally Speaking" SS)...

1.) SS, we are saved by faith alone apart from works.
2.) SS, we are justified by faith alone apart from works
3.) SS, we are saved through grace alone
4.) SS, the Book of James is referring to justification before man and not God.

Is this an accurate assessment of what you believe the Bible teaches?