I am pretty certain that there is no way to write this post without offending someone. The Catholic faithful will see my remarks as blasphemous, and those who view the Catholic Church as Evil Incarnate will think I compromised. It is not my goal to pronounce judgment on the Catholic Church; God will do that in His timing as He will all churches. We will all have to stand before Him and hear Him recount what we did, or did not do, for Him.
Anyway, that being said, there is no church leader with more prominence than the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. His church sees him as an infallible leader, whose authority has been passed down a long line of Roman bishops from the very first one, Peter. Based upon the claim of an unbroken chain of Roman bishops, Roman Catholics teach that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church, and that all churches that do not accept the primacy of the pope have broken away from them, the original and one true church. This belief was made quite apparent in the newly crowned Pope Francis I's first speech, when he said, "And now let us begin this journey, the bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the churches....". He wasn't talking about just all the Roman Catholic Churches, but all the churches.
History shows us that the rise of the influence of the bishop of Rome was due, in large part, to the support of Constantine and the Roman emperors who followed him. It was man who taught the primacy of the bishop of Rome, not God's Word. That doesn't mean there have not been good (humanly speaking) and moral men who have served as pope of the Roman Catholic Church, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, but any church teaching must be compared to Scripture.
And it will be interesting to see how this Pope converges his liberal beliefs in social justice with his conservative stances on gay marriage and abortion. Known as a "reformer" in his home country of Argentina, Pope Francis I has his work cut out for him. No one can deny that the scandals of child abuse have rocked the foundation of the Catholic Church and that church leaders have some serious reparations to make. Secular liberals will be divided on his positions; they will applaud his viewpoint on charity and giving to the poor, while being disappointed that the Catholic Church "refuses to bend" on issues such as same-sex marriage.
For me, it always goes back to what God tells me in His Word. The Bible clearly and consistently states that receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, by grace through faith, grants salvation (John 1:12; 3:16,18,36; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10,13; Ephesians 2:8-9). The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that a person must believe in Jesus Christ AND be baptized AND receive the Eucharist along with the other sacraments AND obey the decrees of the Roman Catholic Church AND perform meritorious works AND not die with any mortal sins AND etc., etc., etc. The world's Catholics, who number in the millions, have been faithful to their Church's doctrine for centuries and that is not likely to change. But it will be interesting to see how the role of this man plays into world affairs as we progress towards the return of our Lord.
And if you really want to get off into the weeds, read Tom Horn's book, "Petrus Romanus", which describes the 12th century medieval prophecies of St. Malachy, who forecast the sequence of Popes, which included the prediction that Pope Benedict XVI would be the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to resign, and that his successor would be the last Pope before Jesus's return. Now if that doesn't bring Pope Francis I's reign into perspective, I don't know what does! No one can deny that these are interesting times in which we live!
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Hi Belle, just curious...as a Bible-believing Christian who has a personal relationship with Jesus...why wouldn't you live out that friendship by obeying Jesus and follow His commands (John 14:15, 21, 23)?ReplyDelete
Your nice list of Catholic practices describes exactly how faithful Catholics live out their friendship with Christ...by following His commands. For example, the Eucharist (The Lord's Supper or Communion)...in 1 Corinthians 11:24, Jesus said to do this in memory of Me. And that doesn't mean grape juice and a cracker, if you read the Bible in John 6:33-58, that means His Body and His Blood. Literally. By the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Yes, I'm that evangelical, Spirit-filled, Bible-reading on-fire Catholic you've probably never met, and yes, I love your column and would love to hang out with you for prayer and gardening and prepping! Hang in there with your finances and tax burden, we're in the same boat.
I double-checked the teachings of the Catholic Church as listed in the Catechism, and to be saved, yes you need to die in God's grace and friendship...which means being friends fully with Jesus...which He describes as following His commandments. If you are Christ's friend, you will do as He said. You are a Protestant, I am a Catholic, we are both believers and followers of Christ, we are part of His Body here on earth...I'm not going to criticize your(self-described) simple approach to your faith, so I just wanted to put in my 2 cents' worth about how faithful Catholics try to live out a full and rich version of their faith. If Jesus said it in the Bible, I want to understand it and live it, even the hard sayings (John 6:60).
And Belle, we Christians can't fight against each other, we need to stand together and fight for Christ here on earth against the enemy. God bless you, keep up your wonderful blog!
If you are in your Bible and earnestly seeking His truth, then we are fellow followers of Christ and that is the most important thing. I am not out to win any theological argument, and as I stated at the beginning of my post, I am not here to judge anyone's faith. But I believe that Jesus was very concerned about abandoning the Word of God to follow the traditions of men (Mark 7:7), and therefore all faiths must be careful not to put the commandments of their pastors, preachers, priests or elders above what God tells us is the way to Him.Delete
My Protestant faith tells me I am saved by the grace of Jesus Christ's death on the cross for my sins. If I acknowledge that He alone is my Savior and repent of my sins and seek to be reborn as a new creation through the power of the Holy Spirit, then I am able to abide in Him, and Him in me. It's that simple. I am a new creation in Christ and it is the beginning of our personal and growing relationship. I can now go straight to Father God and His Son, with no stipulations or prerequisites. Some faiths, require that certain things must be done to keep that salvation. My faith tells me that good works will be a natural result of my changed heart and salvation; there are no requirements. That, I believe, is one of the differences in our two faiths. That being said, I would never claim that I am a "better Believer" or that another's faith or practices are wrong. That is between them and Jesus and God. If we both end up standing before the throne of God and hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant", then we've both accomplished our goal.
My concern is the members of all faiths and denominations, Protestant and Catholics alike, who never open their Bibles to hear directly from God, but rely on a human man for their guidance to eternity. The Holy Spirit lives inside all of us and He is our ultimate guide. So while we may have different practices in our faiths, we can agree that being Spirit-filled and in the Word is the best place to be. We just need to agree to disagree on how much of the "extras" that we need. But I appreciate your open, honest and caring observances. I am proud to stand with you and fight for Christ!