October 24, 2016

Is the Pope Catholic? (Reformation reprise)

by Clint Archer

As a warm-up to Reformation Day–next week Monday–I decided to re-run this post, which I wrote when Benedict XVI became the first pope ever to resign from his post.

Pope Benedict XVIYou’ve got to admire Pope Benedict XVI for knowing how to quit while you’re ahead. As far as climbing the corporate ladder goes, getting the keys to the kingdom and the company Popemobile is a sign you’ve maxed out your promotability. An ironic flavor or the “Peter principle.”

The responsibility of being infallible is a burden no octogenarian should have to bear for long. When you’re getting on in years, and noticing an increased frequency in “senior moments” you don’t want to have to invoke St Anthony to help locate your misplaced keys.

As for the new kid on the block, weighing in at a spritely seventy-six years young (getting the white smoke green light two years sooner than his predecessor), Pope Francis the First ushers in a new era of pontificating. Personally, I think the name Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a cooler name than Francis (no offense pastor Chan), but having a 1 in your name certainly scores points for originality.

My concern whenever the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) perennially makes the news, is that Evangelicals get swept up in debates with their Catholic counterparts at the water cooler without really knowing what Catholics believe. Evangelicals assume that Joe Catholic at work knows and believes what the Pope teaches.

I grew up in a loving, fun, and staunchly Catholic home. When my Evangelical schoolmates lobbed half-baked assaults on my Mariology, purgatory, indulgences, and praying to St Christopher for a safe bus ride, they accomplished no more than convince me they were ignorant of my beliefs.

My Baptistic buddies learned, from their youth pastor no doubt, that Catholics believe in arcane ideas like the treasury of merit, that contraception is evil, and that Mary was born sinless and was assumed into heaven without ever tasting death. It was true that the Pope and other die-hards knew, understood, and believed in all those doctrines, but I could dismiss most of their attacks by honestly denying that I believed any of it. This curtailed their conversion attempts, and left me just as Catholic in my own mind as I would be if I actually did subscribe to the official teachings of the RCC.

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret a nun taught me in the 1st grade when I questioned transubstantiation (it turns out trace elements of Sola Scriptura were already stashed deep in my spiritual DNA from before the foundation of the world, according to Eph 1:4). Here it is…

Catholics are not expected by their parish priests to actually subscribe to everything the RCC teaches. Only if you want to make a career out of Catholicism and get a shot at the Pope gig do you need to actually go along with everything.

As long as you adhere to the basics of baptism, communion, confession, or whatever your parish determined were the biggies, you could call yourself Catholic. A catechism teacher flat-out admitted to our youth group that he and his wife used contraception, and surmised that everyone in our parish did too, citing as evidence the unremarkable sizes of all our families.

Not all people who call themselves Catholic are Catholic in their beliefs. You may be arguing against a sliver of dogma they have never heard of, never mind see as an integral part of their theology. They may defend it anyway. They won’t admit to a Protestant that they aren’t really Catholic in ever iota of their belief. But even if you “win” that argument, you may lose that relationship.

Your goal should never be to win debates; it should be to win souls.

Let me interject here that not all parishes are as lenient with dogma as others. But in various parts of the world, adherence to the official papal teaching is a breathtakingly cavalier affair. If you think every Catholic you speak to knows about how Mary got to heaven, you are assuming too much about her assumption.

Remember that historically the RCC was pragmatic and integrationist in their approach to conversion. Charlemagne, for example, coerced pagan hordes to “convert” by offering them a white shirt in exchange for accepting baptism. Some responded by getting baptized multiple times. You can never have too many shirts.Papal keys

If you asked the Godfather’s Mafioso hit men if they were Christians, they’d unhesitatingly respond with, “Is the Pope Catholic?” Then they’d shoot you and be conscientious about attending confession before the next mass.

The role of the Pope is key. The reason Catholics hold to unbiblical doctrines is because they trust the Pope’s authority. If you want to address theological issues with them, you first have to find a common ground of authority in the Bible.

So, when you as an Evangelical engage a Catholic acquaintance in theological discussion, I would humbly suggest that you avoid gunning for hot button issues like praying to saints, venerating Mary, and other symptoms of Catholicism. Go after the heart. Get to the root of the matter: Sola Scriptura and Sola Gratia, to invoke good ‘ol Reformation language.

When I heard the gospel powerfully expounded from Ephesians 2:1-10, and I grasped the authority of Scripture, the impotence of my own good works, and the wonderful sufficiency of Christ’s unmerited grace by faith alone, I was radically converted and everything else fell into place. Every time I read the Bible after that day, I submitted to God’s word as the sole authority in my life.

In summary, what the Pope believes may be vastly different from what Joe Catholic at work believes. Rather than go after what Popes have taught for centuries, ask Joe what he believes. Then take him to the Scriptures and let the gospel out of its cage.

Don’t get sidetracked by symptoms, the primary disease is sin, and the only cure is Jesus.

Your arguments against hagiolatry and transubstantiation are getting in the way. Your efforts will be better spent going after papal authority and works righteousness.

Get them reading the Bible and trusting in Jesus. Everything else will come with time.

And if Joe asks, “Are you saying that the Pope is wrong about how a person gets to heaven?” You can reply without being facetious, and with heartfelt sincerity, “That depends, is the Pope Catholic?”

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • cdet97

    To my knowledge, the tenets of Sola Scriputra are:
    1. There is exactly one true Gospel.
    2. God’s will is for everyone to know the one true Gospel and to reject all false Gospels.
    3. The sole means by which God conveys the Gospel is through scripture.
    4. God did not establish a single office to authoritatively provide the correct interpretation of scripture (and thus, the true Gospel). Rather, the Christian will discern the Gospel through prayerful, informed and studious reading of the bible, with the help of his fellow Christians.

    Based on the above, I should be able to conclude that adherents of Sola Scriptura are in strict agreement as to what the Gospel says and what it does not say.

    Except that’s not at all what happened, is it? Instead of agreement, Sola Scriptura has produced numerous conflicting and contradicting versions of the Gospel with zero hope of any resolution. According to the Calvinist reading of scripture, grace cannot be resisted. But the Arminianist reading of scripture says that the individual chooses to accept or reject grace freely. Baptists read scripture and conclude salvation cannot be lost. Pentecostals read the same scripture and conclude salvation can be lost and gained again. Presbyterians believe that babies can be baptized, but Baptists and Anabaptists say one must have the capacity to profess the faith before baptism. The Gospel according to Lutherans holds that God conveys grace through sacraments (namely baptism and the eucharist), but an Evangelical will tell you that baptism and the eucharist are both mere symbols.

    If Sola Scriptura is false, then modern Protestantism is *exactly* what I would expect to see: a discordant, cacophonous mess of contradicting Gospels, rather than one coherent Gospel. Thousands of conflicting “bible alone” denominations divided along their interpretations of scripture (and thus, what the Gospel says), rather than one cohesive body. And the continuing fragmentation of those denominations over some disagreement on what the bible says rather than those denominations coalescing in agreement.

    Sola Scriptura has failed disastrously to provide a single, uniform Gospel. And as if that wasn’t enough, Sola Scriptura holds that God didn’t provide an authoritative magisterium to to say, “*This* interpretation conforms with the Gospel, but *that* one contradicts the Gospel”. So if Sola Scriptura is what God intended, then I can only conclude that God really doesn’t want the Gospel to be conveyed at all!

    • I respectfully disagree that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura has led to multiple interpretations of the Gospel. The areas of difference you mention (baptism, election, communion etc.) are not essential to the Gospel, and the division among Protestant Eacangelicals who hold to a view of innerrancy of Scripture, is only on these secondary, non salvation issues. In contrast to the RCC whose doctrine among dioceses are admittedly far less diverse, but in my opinion are all united in an incorrect interpretation of the Gospel itself. This is the danger of the magisterium: when the leader goes astray the whole church who views him as infallible goes astray with him. This is what Luther identified as the problem, and what sparked the Reformation.

      My post next week Monday will elaborate on the 5 Solas.

      Thanks for your thoughtful input.

      • cdet97

        Whether or not salvation can be lost is not essential? Do you realize that if Pentecostals are right and Reformed Christians are wrong, then millions of souls are in jeopardy?

        Whether or not baptism is efficacious is not essential? Do you realize if Lutherans are right then the fundamental understanding of grace and works Calvinists have is destroyed?

        Whether or not Christ is present in the Eucharist is not essential? If Lutherans are right, would you want to be a Baptist who at his judgement is asked by Christ, “Why did you refuse to worship me when I was before you in the form of the Eucharist?”

        Do you know why Jehova’s Witnesses reject Christ’s divinity? Because it’s not on their list of essentials. But they agree Christ’s suffering and death was necessary for salvation, which is essential enough. Right?

        • Jason

          I disagree with your conclusion, but absolutely agree that “essential” versus “nonessential” doctrine is not something that can be put on a list and applied to everyone.

          At some point, a false doctrine is less a matter of misunderstanding and more a willful rejection of some aspect of God’s intent for Christian living.

          For some these topics *are* a nonessential. Many of these doctrines are simply all they’ve known. As believers grow in maturity in other areas, some of our previous stances slap us in the face as just plain wrong.

          For others, these topics are at least symptoms of legitimate road-blocks keeping them from really growing up into the image of Christ. Be it a misconception of the character of God or the significance of the body of Christ, these topics can be evidence that a person willfully refuses to accept God as he is.

          In those cases, they are at least signs of an essential relationship with Christ that is missing or deeply hindered. That’s why we must test everything and hold to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

      • JabbaPapa

        when the leader goes astray

        … and is this not what Luther did ?

        But ultimately, probably through no real fault of your own, your understanding of the Magisterium is flawed. All Christians partake of the Magisterium whenever they accurately teach the Truths of the Revelation.

        The foundational error of Protestantism is to think that the Revelation is located in the Scriptures only, whereas clearly it belongs to God in His Person of the Christ. He is the Living Word, the Logos of God, and it is I think absurd to suppose that He has not Spoken since the New Testament was completed.

        The real purpose of the Magisterium is not to invent “new doctrines” or other such stuff, but to guarantee the continuation of the Tradition of interpretation, and to deflate destructive, factionalist arguments (often over obscure minutiae) when they may occur ; and to try and renew the words used in the teaching Magisterium to try and keep the interpretation of Scriptural, Religious, and Divine Truth constant through time, despite the inevitability of linguistic shifts.

        And, in those very rare cases of a genuine post-Scriptural revelation, to proclaim it with utmost care and humility, and nearly always with the caveat that private revelations do not require that all must agree with them, because the Deposit of the Public Revelation is in the Scripture, insofar that our mortal interpretations of it may avoid Error, Heresy, and Schism.

        Luther’s flawed translation and his arbitrary man-made removal from the Canon of certain parts of the Scripture that irked him were not the best of starts in that respect for his acts of rebellion against the Church.

        • Thanks for your participation in this discussion. To clarify: I believe that Luther was not the leader of the church, the Pope was, and what Luther wanted was to reform the church and restore it to biblical teaching sans papal additions.

          But that said, I think you and I just agreed to disagree beyond repair:
          “The foundational error of Protestantism is to think that the Revelation is located in the Scriptures only”.

          I agree as a Protestant that revelation is located in the Scriptures only. I think the foundational error of Catholicism is that they don’t see revelation as located in the Scripture alone. So if that is a foundational error in your mind, we need to amicably agree to disagree. But thanks for your input.

          • JabbaPapa

            The notion that Revelation is located in the Scriptures only is an invention of the 16th Century, 1500 years after the Foundation of the Church by our Lord.

            I do appreciate your honesty and forthrightness.

    • Benders

      Interesting! Let me see if I understand you. Since scripture alone is God’s revelation to us then we should all be in agreement on all doctrines? So because we disagree on many things, then sola scriptura is false? Do you think there could possibly be another explanation or two about why we disagree? What is the alternative, on going revelation? That doesn’t seem to solve the problem at all, does it?

      • I think the commenter’s point is that the alternative is an authoritative body (such as the Catholic magisterium) that can decide on an interpretation for all Christians. This is the main difference between Sola Scriptura and the “Bible + Papal authority” view. It’s the view Luther was protesting.

        • Benders

          Ok, but why the animosity towards scripture alone then? You were just accused of abandoning the faith over this. I find that irrational and illogical, but it certainly is in line with the RCC teaching. I believe it was the 4th session of Trent that basically said, believe what we teach or you are anematha.

          • cdet97

            I don’t think Clint “abandoned the faith” as much as he abandoned what he mistakenly thought was the Catholic faith.

            I am quite certain that despite his claim to have been raised in a “strict” Catholic household, his understanding of authentic Catholic teaching is poor.

            For the record, that’s not Clint’s fault.

          • JabbaPapa

            Quite.

          • Benders

            So what does all this mean? I am not an expert on Catholicism, thus I defer to you. Does it mean that the leadership (magesterium?) receives revelation from God and so “sola scriptura” is false?

          • JabbaPapa

            Does it mean that the leadership (magesterium?) receives revelation from God and so “sola scriptura” is false?

            No.

            Sola Scriptura is false, fundamentally, because a) it is extra-Scriptural (ironically) and b) The Revelation, ie the Logos, ie the Word, ie the Lord Christ Son of God in the Divine Trinity is not “limited” in His Salvific Actions to the sole contents of the Holy Bible.

          • I’m concerned that the irony will cause a vortex in the universe that results in an existential implosion. I call foul at saying Sola Scriptura is false because it isn’t scriptural. You can’t use our rules of authority (that something needs to be scriptural to be authoritative) to deny our rules of authority.

          • JabbaPapa

            You’ve confused my sarcasm for irony.

    • JabbaPapa

      Indeed. Sola Scriptura is simply man-made Protestant doctrine, and with the caricatural catechesis that the blogger clearly received in his youth, it’s little wonder to see his abandonment of the Faith.

      • Jane Hildebrand

        Sola Scripture is simply a man-made Protestant doctrine? How insulting to God and demonstrative of the control the magisterium has over you in elevating themselves while diminishing God’s word!

        And you accuse the author of abandonment of the faith? Faith in what? The catholic church who trains you in their traditions, while keeping you ignorant of God’s Word? A faith that requires you to copy and paste all your answers from catholic answer websites because opening your Bible and understanding it is something reserved for them? Protestants defend the Word of God as perfect and infallible. Catholics defend a magisterium who requires you to go through them for interpretation and salvation. Sounds like the JW’s to me. Same lie, different suit.

        “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)

        “The word of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7)

        “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.” (Deut. 4:2)

        • JabbaPapa

          Your characterisation of the Catholic Christianity is a total caricature.

          Your suggestion that Catholics are kept in “ignorance” of the Revelation through Holy Scripture is as false as your implied notion that I might somehow be subjected in my opinions and readings to the contents of “web sites”.

          Your 2 Timothy quote is BTW a gross mistranslation.

          NO, Salvation is NOT provided by the Magisterium, no more than it might be provided by Luther’s schismatic theses.

          • Benders

            What was Jane’s translation and what is yours?

          • JabbaPapa

            The word “Scripture” is derived not from the Greek, but from the Latin “scriptura” and Saint Jerome’s translation, in which it means simply “writings/literature”, or more literally, “that which is to be conserved & transmitted in writing”. It’s frequently mistranslated, including by Catholics.

            But I’ve examined this question previously, and the Greek is in accord with a *proper* interpretation of the verses :

            {3:16} All divinely inspired writing is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in justice,
            {3:17} so that the man of God may be perfect, having been trained for every good work.

            ALL of Scripture is of course “divinely inspired writing” — but the notion that ONLY the Scripture is divinely inspired is foreign to the meaning of these verses.

            The phrase “useful for” simply cannot anyway be construed as meaning “exclusive for the purpose of”.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Okay, let me ask you this. If you stopped attending the catholic church, stopped receiving the eucharist and at your death did not receive your last rights by a priest, would you still go to heaven, or should I say, even have a shot at going to heaven?

          • cdet97

            It depends. Did he stop attending Mass because he just didn’t feel like going? Or did he have an unavoidable condition that made going to Mass impossible?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Well, let me rephrase. Does going to mass effect ones salvation? A simple yes or no would be fine.

          • JabbaPapa

            All Godly Christian Worship affects Salvation — what effects it is a Judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ for our Souls to His Heaven.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Wrong. All Godly Christian worship is the result of salvation that is through faith, not the means.

          • JabbaPapa

            Wrong

            Glad to hear that you availed of some manner of personal dogmatic infallibility, that not even Popes possess !!!

            worship is the result of salvation that is through faith

            Man-made Protestant Dogma.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            No, God breathed infallible scripture. Look it up.

          • JabbaPapa

            Scripture tells us that Salvation is from God.

            Your problem is that you have a completely intellectualised conception of Faith — this is because you have surrendered your understanding to words and concepts, instead of to the transcendental Revelation of God’s Infinite and Eternal Love.

            It is why you misunderstand and therefore misrepresent the Catholicity of the Faith, because you imagine that Luther’s tedious theses are somehow relevant to the Works towards Salvation, which are Spiritual Works, including but certainly not limited to only Faith or only the Scriptures.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            “Amazing to hear that salvation comes from something inside you personally, rather than from the Lord our God.”

            Wait. Are you not aware that the Holy Spirit is from the Lord our God? That He indwells us, teaches us, comforts us and seals and marks us for salvation? So yes, salvation does come from the Holy Spirit inside us who is sent from God. Read John 14.

          • cdet97

            But that doesn’t mean that every individual Christian is receptive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance as to what is and what isn’t the gospel. You are one Protestant standing in an arena with millions of others who disagree with you on essential parts of the gospel. Is the Holy Spirit confused?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            On essential parts of the gospel? Which ones exactly do we disagree on that effect our salvation?

          • JabbaPapa

            Do you think we’re God, and able to declare whether you shall be saved or not ? LOL

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Well it appears that what you’re saying. You have declared, or should I say your magisterium has declared, that you must be a (good) catholic to go to heaven. You must go to mass and if you don’t it could result in damnation, am I right?

          • JabbaPapa

            You have declared, or should I say your magisterium has declared, that you must be a (good) catholic to go to heaven

            Nope.

            Catholic doctrine is not what you have been taught it to be.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Well then, fill me in. Explain the catholic doctrine on how one gets to heaven.

          • JabbaPapa

            By the Grace of God, made Manifest in the Sacraments (Baptism foremost), Virtues (including Faith and also Charity and Hope). but not limited only to these things in God’s Divine Sovereignty to save whom He may Will.

            God is Sovereign, not this doctrine nor that one ; but the Catholicity and the Orthodoxy of the Faith are taught to us for our Spiritual Works of Conversion towards the Salvation of our Souls through the Church that our Lord founded through His Apostles.

          • cdet97

            Baptists and Pentecostals disagree on whether salvation can be lost.

            Lutherans and Baptists disagree on whether baptism is efficacious.

            Arminanists and Calvinists disagree on whether or not grace can be freely chosen.

          • JabbaPapa

            So what, you’re suggesting that the Holy Spirit is in you because you’re a Protestant, but not in me because I’m Catholic, or something ?

            Does the Holy Spirit check first to ensure that it won’t enter into someone who has rejected the theses of Martin Luther ?

            And in what way does my statement that Salvation comes from God contradict the idea of Salvation being given by that Person of the Holy Trinity ?

            {14:12} Or else, believe because of these same works.

            whoops

          • cdet97

            Yes. Skipping Mass on Sundays and Holy Days with no compelling reason is a grave sin. If you freely choose to skip Mass and you do so knowing fully that it’s a grave sin, you’ve committed a mortal sin, which cuts you off completely from God’s grace. If you die in that state, you go to hell.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Show me scriptures proving that. I dare you.

          • cdet97

            You need a bible quote to confirm that not worshipping God out of laziness isn’t a sin?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            No, I need a Bible quote confirming that skipping mass and holy days will send me to hell and cut me off from God’s grace.

          • cdet97

            Show me a bible quote saying that everything has to be spelled out in explicitly in the Bible.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            I cited a few above. I can interpret them for you if you need me to.

          • cdet97

            I can interpret them for you if you need me to.

            So, you’re an infallible interpreter of scripture?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Me? Oh, of course not. That is the Holy Spirit’s job whom I received when I placed my faith in Christ alone for my salvation.

            “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)

          • cdet97

            So if two people differ in their interpretation of a scriptural verse, is it because one of them didn’t “place their faith in Christ” hard enough?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Nope. It means they have to turn back to God’s Word prayerfully, asking God for wisdom in understanding.

            “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (Phil 3:15)

            “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously without finding fault.” (James 1:5)

            By the way, both Paul and James were speaking to all believers, not the magisterium.

          • JabbaPapa

            Paul and James were speaking to all believers, not the magisterium

            Paul and James are an intrinsic and unalienable part of the Holy Magisterium of the Faith.

          • cdet97

            It means they have to turn back to God’s Word prayerfully, asking God for wisdom in understanding.

            Bible alone Christians have been trying to do that for 500 years. Rather than causing agreement and resolution of doctrinal differences, it’s only fomented the endless fragmentation of the mystical body of Christ.

            When can we expect Calvinists and Arminianists to complete their “turn back to God’s word” and resolve their differences?

          • JabbaPapa

            No — mortal sin cannot cut you off “completely” from the Grace of God, and to suggest that is not Christian. I think it’s actually been formally denounced as a heretical doctrine.

            If it did, then the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Baptism, Confirmation, and Last Rites would be without effect.

            The purpose of the Sacraments is manifold, and they are for Graces and Conversion, though they are also of course, with the Will of God, and in Christian Faith, a means towards that Salvation for our Souls.

          • cdet97

            You’re right, “completely” is too strong a word. But sufficient to ensure damnation if left unrepentant.

          • JabbaPapa

            Your questions are caricatures — Salvation can be provided by God Alone.

            The dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus is a denial of a Heresy of Antiquity that multiple salvations and multiple heavens might exist for multiple religions, and the Church of that dogma is the Church of our Lord in Heaven, not any earthly one.

            No Salvation is possible except to the Church of our Christ.

      • Again, it’s too ironic to bear that man-made Catholic doctrine is ok, but allegedly “man-made Protestant doctrine” is not, because the man-made Catholic doctrine says so. But it is humorous.

        • JabbaPapa

          Again, you’ve missed the (deliberate) sarcasm.

    • Jason

      In the article, Clint was pointing out how divided the RCC actually is
      within its walls. I’ve have similar experiences, though not as personal.
      I’ve only seen it in the lives of Catholics I was friends with. At some
      point along the way, the authority of the Pope is being fairly handily
      undermined in many places and ways.

      It seems to be the same
      within and without Rome. Whether your authority is the inspired word of
      God or the Pope, there are many who claim to subscribe to that authority
      who, in truth, have little respect for it.

      True, the outward
      appearance is different. From an institutional perspective, all that is
      under the label “Roman Catholic” is far more united than all the
      self-declared adherents of scripture alone.

      However, I have found
      greater unity among those who take scripture as their authority than
      under any earthly institution I have ever been part of. I have seen lives changed dramatically as
      iron sharpens iron within the unity of the saints (rather than
      fracturing at every disagreement [either with another denomination or
      another anathema]).

      Certainly, there are fewer men who would
      submit to the word of God than the authority of fellow man (far fewer
      than those who claim to). Even those who do submit to scripture as their
      authority do so as fallen men.

      Working through those
      disagreements is what builds godly character. Sweeping it under the rug,
      for the sake of “unity” only keeps man comfortable in this world (which
      ought not to be our home).

      • JabbaPapa

        Well the catechetical instruction of Christians generally has been in a very parlous state generally since the 60s, Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants alike.

        • Jason

          I’d say the average church attendee has probably been fairly ignorant of even their own congregation’s teachings for at least as far back as the distinction between “clergy” and “laity” became popular (much earlier than the 60s).

  • Christina

    Thank you for this post. To add my personal experience. A catholic coworker began coming to me with questions of faith because she heard my Christian music and felt comfortable around me. I, in turn, invited her to a concert at my church (Immanuel Bible Church….this was prior to the arrival of Jesse Johnson, however) and she started attending occasionally. She also got connected with a Bible study at Immanuel and began her journey to a personal relationship with Christ. She still considers herself catholic, but my intention was never to gain her church membership, only to introduce her to Jesus and the concept of a personal relationship with Him.

    • I like your priority Christina. When a person is in Christ, the Spirit is at work in them to will and to work for His good pleasure. Our first priority should be to point people to Jesus as the only Savior. Good work.

  • Cecilie Hays

    Wow. This is the most helpful piece I have ever read about discussing the Gospel with my friends who call themselves Catholic. Thanks, Clint!

    • That’s a high compliment Cecilie, as I know you read a lot! Glad to be of assistance. Say hi to Dr Hays and the fam.

  • Ian

    Interesting article Clint. Shall definitely use your advice!

    • Use at own risk. 🙂

  • Hal Hays

    great post … loved the closing line!

  • Karl Heitman

    ‘Tis the season to attract Roman trolls! Post Tenebras Lux!!

    • Lol. Good point Karl.
      Gotta love trolls. They’re gonna love next week’s post!
      I’m shutting down the comment thread.

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