Are Catholics and Christians the Same? (by Andy Hynes)

Andy Hynes is a PhD candidate at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow him @ABHYNES on Twitter.

While my family and I were standing in line for the Jack Sparrow ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a couple of teenagers in front of us turned around and asked me that question.  I responded with the typical, “Well Catholics can be Christians, but they are not synonymous.”  Later as I was pondering my response, I became concerned about what I said.  Linking the possibility of being a Christian to the Catholic Church may not have been the best idea.  Maybe I am the only one who has said something like that.

Have you ever heard someone say something like, “I am sure some Catholics are Christians.”  Or that they think there are certainly some in the Catholic Church that have espoused salvation by grace alone.  BUT is that true?  Is that possible?

As I thought more about the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church, I pondered if my response was accurate; if all the times a similar response was a correct response.  If you think of some of the base line teachings of the Catholic Church, could we call them “Christian?”

  •  Grace through the church and sacraments
  • Tradition over Scripture (different canon)
  • Division of sin into “mortal and venial” sins
  • Extreme veneration of Mary (worship of Mary)
  • Confession must be to a priest
  • Baptism of the dead
  • Rosary
  • Purgatory as a place of waiting and hoping and paying for sins
  • Last rites (Extreme Unction)
  • Hierarchy church structure

These are just a few of the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church.  Without going into great detail, if we described these teachings, and then placed them against the Scripture, what would we come up with?

I wonder, if we described the teachings of the Catholic Church in comparison to a Bible believing Evangelical church to someone who believed the Bible, but was unfamiliar with Catholicism, what he would say?  I wonder if he would say something contrary to what you and I have said in the past?  I wonder if I would have responded differently to this young man in line in front of me?

Could Catholics be a “false religion, cult, or something else?”  I think they preach and teach a false Gospel.  I think they are leading people further from the Gospel.  We spend so much time on the mission field trying to evangelize “Catholics” in Central and South America, why not in NORTH AMERICA?  If they are teaching a false Gospel, then it is a false Gospel everywhere!

I recently returned from a trip to Guatemala, which is a highly Catholic area, and the main focus was on reaching them with the GOSPEL!  While I am well aware of variations amongst Catholics, to a degree, I do know that they ALL teach the main doctrines the same.   They are all teaching salvation by works and through the Church.  After all, it was this teaching, in principle, that caused the great revival of the Reformation!

So, as I have continued to think about my response to the young man in line, I think I need to change my response.  Can there be Catholics that are Christians?  Well let me ask this question; can there be Jehovah’s Witness Christians or Mormon Christians?  These too teach a false Gospel “centered” around “Jesus,” just not the Jesus of the Scripture.  So then, the Gospel of the Catholics doesn’t match up with the Gospel of the Scripture, so can there be Catholic Christians?

Are Catholics and Christians the same?

Comments

  1. Dave Miller says

    With Catholicism, the problem is not so much denying biblical truth as adding to it. There is enough of truth left in the system that some Catholics seem to find true faith in Christ.

    But the Catholic system is, in my opinion, deeply flawed. It promotes a gospel imbued with works and religious ritual that is not true to the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

    So, in short, I consider Catholicism a step this side of Mormonism and the JWs.

    • says

      Dave,

      This is a great question. And I hope your full moderation skills don’t have to come to play in the discussion of this post by Andy. Without speaking directly to the idea of Catholic Christians, I believe we must be careful not to make salvation based upon knowledge and practice when we fight to defend salvation by grace. We need to make sure we don’t lose justification by faith when we argue proper doctrine is required for justification. We are still called to declare heretics by their true name but we need to be specific about what is damnable heresy. And that specificity must be derived from Scripture.

      I fear that the roots of response towards this very question with Catholics is growing into the separation we see (and you moderate) along other major doctrinal splits. If we are willing to declare that Catholics are not Christians, then what stops us from being convinced that those who don’t hold our doctrine fully are also damned?

      I believe most people will not go to this extreme neither are they tempted by it. But it may help us to recognize the root and the fruit. Let us return to the Bible for the proper requirements for the salvation found in the gospel. With this caution in mind, let us ask how much of the gospel must we understand and get right to receive this salvation. And finally, let us all agree that we should continue to seek Reformation in the Catholic Church.

      • Donald R. Holmes says

        “I believe we must be careful not to make salvation based upon knowledge and practice when we fight to defend salvation by grace. We need to make sure we don’t lose justification by faith when we argue proper doctrine is required for justification.”

        Yes.

      • Bart Barber says

        “Faith” doesn’t depend upon “knowledge”? Are you arguing that there is absolutely no propositional content to the Christian faith?

        • mike white says

          And faith w/o works is… well… dead.
          True faith must have both knowledge that informs it and works that follow it.

        • says

          Bart,

          First, I didn’t say faith didn’t depend on knowledge. I explicitly said salvation. The reason is because too often we neglect that we are saved by grace through faith.

          Second, I’m not saying there are no propositional content to Christian faith. That content is explicitly found in 1 Cor 15:1-8. I was practicing parallelism of “knowledge/practice” and doctrine.

          These two points highlight the border I was building for the discussion. With these things in mind you should be affirmed by how I was able to conclude my post saying “Let us return to the Bible for the proper requirements for the salvation found in the gospel. With this caution in mind, let us ask how much of the gospel must we understand and get right to receive this salvation.”

          • Bart Barber says

            Good point. I was in error and was, in point of fact, reacting more to Donald’s quoted snippet of your comment rather than to the entire passage that you wrote. My apologies.

          • says

            Bart,

            Thank you for the polite discussion. I’m glad I was able to answer your questions sufficiently. Thank you for the ability to qualify.

  2. says

    Read about the Baptist World Alliance sending Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School (Birmingham) at the close of last year to the Synod of Bishops in Rome. George, a firm evangelical, has been a part of dialogue with Roman Catholics for quite some time. He, along with Chuck Colson, and many others have put forth a couple of documents in partnership with RC leaders.

    I think that researching their work will help bring understanding to the questions presented here.

    • says

      Chris,

      This is an excellent post, thank you. The true question is: “What does it take to be Christian?” If we think about what keeps people away from God in relationship here on earth an in eternity. What keeps us from God, is what do we do with Jesus? Do we see Jesus as God, and trust on His work for salvation.

      Much of the tone of this type of discussion is, “do they have my perfect doctrine?” Well, none of us has perfect doctrine, for we are sinful an finite. This is just as true is SBC life, not just in the Catholic Church.

      Are there issues and differences, “yes,” but who can we work with to build Christ’s fill and Diverse Kingdom in this non-Christian culture?

  3. says

    Catholic doctrine, so much of it anyway, is NOT Christian. And Rome is pretty much a ‘clergy club’.

    But within all that mess, covered by so much horse manure, there can still be found a faint odor of the gospel.

    And that is enough for Christ.

    There are Christians and non-Christians in every church where Jesus and His gospel of the forgiveness of sins are proclaimed in some manner. No matter how poorly.

  4. Andy says

    I want to make sure and draw out the point that our evangelical attempts at missions in major areas of the world are spent on “Catholics.” With that in mind, why is it not a “major” emphasis for missions in North America?

    • says

      Andy,

      In places like Latin America there is a higher concentration of people who take their identity from the RCC, but in America we have much more diversity in terms of religious affiliation. It’s not as though Latin American missions are focused on reaching Catholics for Christ whereas we are not. Missionaries in Latin America have to deal with the religious views and affiliations of the people they come into contact with, and those views can vary greatly, since typically only the devout Catholics fully embrace and understand RCC teachings.

      In the U.S. we have such a plethora of religious views, even among Catholics, that a targeted emphasis on “Catholics” or “Catholic teachings” would not be very impactful. But it’s not as though we don’t have people actively trying to reach Catholics here. It’s just not typically the only group they’re trying to reach.

  5. Bennett Willis says

    So, if I have anything that I believe is true that you don’t, you are entitled to send missionaries to me–obligated even. If I have not done it absolutely right (by your standards), I cannot have received salvation?

    This is the sense that I get from the posting.

    For a site that is populated (mostly) by people who strongly are bent toward the Calvinistic–this posting seems truly odd. There are likely to be about the same fraction of Catholics that are elect as Baptists or other denominations.

    • says

      Bennett,

      I made reference to this very issue in one of my previous comments. I don’t believe that was the tone of the post though. It was asking us to thoughtfully consider Catholics. While your conclusion is not a stretch, we should not assume the writer of the post would agree with the conclusion.

    • Dave Miller says

      I do not think you are accurately reading the post, Bennett. No one expects 100% agreement on all things.

      However, there is a gospel that is at the center of the faith we believe. On that faith we must stand and not compromise. There is a big difference between calling out someone for a different view of baptism or eschatology, and calling out a group that consistently promotes a false gospel.

      Do you believe in justification by grace through faith alone? Is that a doctrine worth standing for? Is that a doctrine worth standing against those who do not hold to biblical justification?

      When we stand FOR the gospel, we have to stand, as Paul did in Galatians, AGAINST those who undermine that gospel.

      Since this is a Baptist blog, there is no question that we do not believe that Catholicism is a proper expression of biblical faith. But the question is whether it falls within the boundaries of Christian faith.

      • says

        “Since this is a Baptist blog, there is no question that we do not believe that Catholicism is a proper expression of biblical faith. But the question is whether it falls within the boundaries of Christian faith.”

        Dave, I would answer to your question shown above based on the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. While we Baptist are not creedal, creeds can be useful and in my opinion these beliefs fall well within Christian orthodoxy. There are one or two points where we will disagree such as the meaning of one catholic (universal) Church and Baptism for the forgiveness of sins, but there are many non-Catholic Christians who believe in the latter.

        Pulled from Wikipedia:

        Apostles Creed

        1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
        2. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
        3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
        4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
        5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
        6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
        7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
        8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
        10. the forgiveness of sins,
        11. the resurrection of the body,
        12. and life everlasting.
        Amen.

        Nicene Creed approved translation for use in the United States

        I believe in one God,
        the Father almighty,
        maker of heaven and earth,
        of all things visible and invisible.

        I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
        the Only Begotten Son of God,
        born of the Father before all ages.
        God from God, Light from Light,
        true God from true God,
        begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
        through him all things were made.
        For us men and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven,
        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
        and became man.

        For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
        he suffered death and was buried,
        and rose again on the third day
        in accordance with the Scriptures.

        He ascended into heaven
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

        He will come again in glory
        to judge the living and the dead
        and his kingdom will have no end.

        I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
        who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
        who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.

        I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
        I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
        and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
        and the life of the world to come. Amen

        • Christiane says

          Hi ED B.

          thank you for listing the Creeds . . .
          I think when Catholics are asked what the Church believes in, these Creeds are the best answer to give, so I appreciate your listing of this information for folks to look at

          • says

            I’m pretty sure Mormons (or JWs) cannot affirm the Nicene Creed. “True God of True God” and “consubstantial” (homoousios) in the original text cannot be twisted to fit their theology.

          • says

            Joshua, I think you are correct. Another issue with the Creeds as Ed is trying to apply them is the Romanism does not extend that hand to Protestants as I understand it. We also cannot forget about the anathemas of “infallible” Trent.

          • Christiane says

            Hi MARK

            some reassurance (?) concerning those ‘anathemas’ at Trent, this:
            ‘The anathemas were for the first reformers–not their descendants. No one born and raised in a non-Catholic tradition is anathema. The Catholic Church does not anathematize someone who has never been Catholic.’

        • says

          But that’s not all that Catholics believe. In fact, you must believe that Mary was bodily assumed, that baptism washes away original sin, that Purgatory is real, that there is a treasury of merit by which we gain further right standing, etc.

          So, according to Catholic dogma, the creeds are a good start, but they are not complete. I could not for example, claim Catholicism by saying “I believe the apostle’s creed, but all that Mary stuff is a bunch of hooey.” I would NOT be able to call myself Catholic (at least according to Rome)

          • says

            The original post is asking among other things if it was correct to say there are some Christians among members of the Catholic faith. I quote these two creeds as a baseline for saying yes, I believe that the foundational beliefs of the RCC allow for some of its members to be truly saved. I know some Catholic laypersons who I believe are born again in spite of some of the baggage of Roman traditions. I know other very faithful Catholics who I am very concerned about.

            No one who knows me well would ever confuse me with being a RC . I used to truly despise the RCC for what I considered the adulteration of the true faith. But after doing some research into how Christian traditions and doctrines evolved over the centuries (as best as a non-seminarian can) I came away still disagreeing with much of what the RCC added to first century Christianity but I at least understood the reasoning and the very real questions and problems they were struggling with. To be clear, I was not looking to excuse the RCC while doing my own research. My question was much broader than that. How on earth did we end up with so many different expressions of the Christian faith with such diversity in doctrines, methods, meanings, purpose and effect of ordinances, sacraments, forms of worship…..you name it.

          • says

            Hey Ed,

            > The original post is asking among other things if it was correct to say there are some Christians among members of the Catholic faith.

            Yes. I believe that there can be Christians in any denomination – God can save anyone. And I agree with the sentiment that some denominations do all they can to thwart God – some veil the gospel, some distort it, some don’t even preach it. But God saved the Ethiopian eunuch so I have hope.

            > I quote these two creeds as a baseline for saying yes, I believe that the foundational beliefs of the RCC allow for some of its members to be truly saved.

            If that were all, I’d agree. But that is not all. RCC dogma does not stop at the creeds, and if you believe the creeds only but reject the rest, you cannot call yourself Roman Catholic. Their foundational beliefs are summarized in Trent and all the anathemas pronounced there.

            If you believe the creeds but reject purgatory, you are anathema.
            If you believe the creeds but reject “faith alone”, you are anathema.
            If you believe the creeds but reject the authority of the bishop of Rome, you are anathema.

            Basically, the Roman Catholic Church believes the creeds +, and if you reject the “+” part, the Catholic Church anathematizes you.

            My wife and I both grew up Catholic – she moreso than I and yet God saved us both together in spite of our past. It took us about a year of struggling with “pleasing God” vs “pleasing man” before God won out and we left the Catholic Church. It was hard on our family, but it was for the best.

            I could not submit to the “+” part any longer, and am now considered an apostate because of it. Even though I believe those creeds, the Catholic Church will not have me.

            > How on earth did we end up with so many different expressions of the Christian faith with such diversity in doctrines, methods, meanings, purpose and effect of ordinances, sacraments, forms of worship…..you name it.

            Some of it is certainly the outworkings of sin in an unwillingness or inability to properly understand the Scriptures. People will justify all sorts of beliefs/practices, and others simply are ignorant of what the bible says. Some misinterpret it and call certain passages “prescriptive” when they are “descriptive”. And all of us have traditional biases whether we admit it or not. All of that can combine to create disharmony, schisms, and heresy.

            But some of it is pragmatic – how to best reach the culture with the unadulterated Word of God? Musical style? Mode and frequency of baptism? Liturgy or not (ignoring for the moment that most churches who claim no liturgy still have one…hehe)? Communion every week? Once every other month? It is these things that are good in my mind. We are not cookie cutters, and the diversity within the body of Christ speaks volumes to me about the God we serve.

            But, when diversity breaks into heresy, that’s where we must draw the line.

    • Andy says

      Bennett,

      The truth is, if you don’t have correct biblical doctrines, then yes I am obligated based upon my understanding of the Great Commission to go and share truth with you. Does everything have to be right? NOPE, praise Him it doesn’t, but there are essentials of the faith. Lordship of Christ, belief in the physical resurrection of Christ, and biblical savific teachings. Christ is the one mediator, and grace doesn’t come through the church or any man, and so on.

      As for the Calvinist proposition, brother being elect has nothing to do with this. Even the elect must fully surrender to the Lordship of Christ through biblical repentance and faith. There are no two ways around that.

  6. Jess Alford says

    Andy,

    Why is evangelizing Catholics in North America not a major emphasis?
    World wide there are 1.2 billion Catholics. I think we should evangelize
    who we know is lost. I am not going to say that Catholics are going to hell.

    I have some great friends that are Catholic, I would compare their Christianity to anyone’s. I used to have a Catholic attend a church I used to pastor, one of the finest men you will ever meet. He would not say a negative word about anyone. After Sunday morning Mass (I believe this is what it is called,) he would attend the church that I serve. I talked with him about becomming a Baptist. He said I like things just the way they are, this way I get the best of both worlds.

    They that are not against us are for us. Let’s leave them alone, we may need them one day. This is comming from someone who used to say everyone is going to hell, except Baptist’s. One day I had a major problem,
    a problem that no one could fix. A friend of mine was a Methodist minister whom I told about my problem. He said let’s pray right now,
    he laid both hands on my shoulders and began praying, I tell you the Holy Spirit was all over the place. A week later no more problem.

    • Jon says

      This isn’t really about denominational differences or crossing every theological “t”. To be a Christ follower, one must embrace Christ and His Gospel. The Roman Church does not proclaim the true Gospel, but another gospel. Can someone identify as Catholic and be saved? Absolutely. Can someone embrace all that Rome teaches and at the same time embrace the Gospel? I don’t think they can because the fullness of Roman teaching is largely opposed to the Gospel.
      A central example of their false gospel that I have not seen mentioned is the Mass. This is not just what Catholics call their church service. The Mass is the continuing sacrifice of Christ upon Roman altars. In Roman Catholic theology, Christ is sacrificed as a propitiatory offering for the sins of the living and the dead every time the Mass is performed, but this sacrifice never, ever, perfects those who approach it. The Reformers saw in the 16th century what we recognize today: the finished sacrifice of the Cross is central and essential to the Christian Gospel. “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10.14). By denying this truth, and therefore trapping Catholics into a sacramental treadmill, the heart of the Gospel is denied. In short, if someone looks to the Roman Church’s sacraments for salvation instead of the Cross, he is looking in the wrong place.

    • says

      Jess, your answer is a very interesting one. I don’t agree that you’ve given objective biblical reasons for Roman Catholicism. However, I want to point something else out.

      You’re argument is much like Baptists who argue for a certain person or preacher when his theology or methods are challenged. Or when methods such as…dare I say it…the sinner’s prayer are defended. (I defended it myself recently.) Some Baptist will defend men, theology and methods in a subjective, existential way much like you have defended your Catholic friend.

      So, if you’re reasoning is not enough or accepted as biblically sound to validate Catholicism, then this type of argument should not be accepted when used to defend certain preachers, methods et al.

  7. says

    I’ve got quite a bit more to say about this, but I’ll have to check back in later when I have a bit more time.

    But for now I am curious about “baptism for the dead.” I don’t remember seeing that as a Catholic doctrine before. Mormons, yes; but Catholics, no. Could you perhaps explain that a bit more?

  8. Bart Barber says

    Sometimes this discussion leads you to ask the question, “Which Catholicism?”

    It seems to me that Roman Catholicism in the Deep South of the USA has been influenced by Evangelicalism—by Southern Baptists, even—to some degree. Roman Catholicism in the Casamance of Senegal? Not at all. It has been influenced by African Traditional Animism. Luis Palau says that Pope Francis is friendly with Evangelicals. Leo X? Not so much.

    • Dave Miller says

      What I read about the new pope led me to think that Palau’s view might be true.

      When I was in Honduras years ago, the missionary was talking about local Catholicism. She said that the local iteration had little to do with official doctrine and practice. Mary was the most common object of worship and there were very few who took their faith seriously.

      Catholicism has been resilient, molding to local beliefs and customs.

      But, the same can probably be said of evangelicalism around the world.

    • Christiane says

      the only ‘varieties’ I can think of among Catholics would be the liturgical rites which are united under the Pope.
      As for unity of faith and morals, all the liturgical rites of the Catholic Church share the same teachings.

      The different rites reflect the early direction of the Church when it spread out from Rome into the main early centers of Christianity.
      Here is some explanation that I can vouch for that is accurate about those rites:

      http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/liturgy/rites/the-rites-of-the-catholic-church/

      • Bart Barber says

        Christiane, I would say that the Catholic priest in Nyassia Senegal who, after Sunday mass, goes out into the jungle with the people to offer sacrifices to the Bakin—that variety of Catholicism is not the same variety of Catholicism as a Charismatic Catholic congregation in San Antonio.

  9. Andy says

    David,

    Thanks for thought. The ideas may be less common, and maybe not as practiced today, but they are baptism of dead infants, and what was called “baptism of desire.” Both are driven by a need for baptismal regeneration.

    My desire with this post is not to create division, but contemplation. To think about how we respond to the Catholic faith, and for true Evangelicals to walk with caution and prudence to reach out to this faith even in the US.

  10. says

    You have to distinguish between the core doctrines of corporate bodies of individuals and the individuals themselves. You also have to determine of what is meant by Christian means “be saved” or “agree with core doctrinal truths.” That brings up the question as to how far away from truth can someone believe and be saved.

    In any case, there are Protestant groups that are at least as heretical as the RCC.

  11. says

    I think the other thing one is up against with this is the breadth of division between the average Catholic in the pew and the official dogma of the church. Several of the RCC folks I speak to around these parts are closer to a saved-by-grace viewpoint than the Lutherans in the same town.

    Of course, their priest won’t play with the rest of us, but the church folks are closer in than one might expect.

  12. Bill Mac says

    If one confesses with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead, they are saved.

  13. Bruce H. says

    “Birds of a feather flock together” is a very true statement. Being saved also means that you seek fellowship with like-minded people. I struggled in a Fundamental Baptist Church because I read my Bible. The Holy Spirit is real and works within us and changes our paradigm. If a person is a Christian in a Catholic church they will eventually leave. We simply do not stay where there is no spiritual food or if works is promoted. If a person stays in the Catholic church my doubt of their true salvation is 99.9%.

  14. David Rogers says

    Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. That being said, it is important to clarify that it is faith in Christ alone, not faith in the doctrine of justification by faith alone, that saves. I am certain there are many individuals who do not correctly understand doctrine, or who have been taught wrong on even important points of doctrine, who still, in their heart, and are trusting in Christ and Christ alone and what He did on the cross as the effectual cause of their salvation. Catholic dogma teaches that baptism, confession, participation in the Eucharist, and submission to the pope and the magisterium of the church are necessary. Because of this, sadly, many people, on the bottom line, are trusting in these things for their salvation. And this is a false faith which will not save. But others, in response to the work of the Holy Spirit in their heart, are looking beyond these things to Christ Himself, and are saved in spite of the teaching of the Church.

    That being said, the Roman Catholic Church itself, as a structure has defined itself as teaching a gospel, which, from my understanding of Scripture, is a false gospel, and for that reason I must consider them to be a false church.

    • says

      I agree. I would word it as the RCC is an apostate church . And anyone who tries to describe them as less is ignoring the gospel.

      Likewise I agree with the conclusion in the first paragraph, I would expect the % of salvation to increase the further into the laity and further away from Rome you get. They are in spite of the teaching and the further they get from the dogmatic center the more likely it will be to find a Catholic fully dependent on Christ.

  15. Greg Harvey says

    It is with great regret that I note that Catholics uniformly responded to the EE/CWT question “If you were standing before God right now and he were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into my kingdom?'” with responses that emphasize faithful participation in the church and only upon further questioning do they mention trust in Jesus Christ.

    If you dive into the system of doctrine and faith in the Roman Catholic Church, you will often come across deep causes that lead to this misordering of emphases. It starts with the notion of infant baptism coupled with the church’s emphasis on lifelong membership because of that baptism as well as the belief that the sacraments–including baptism, confession, Mass, and so forth–convey grace.

    The most charitable reading of that position would be that faithful adherence to participation in the sacraments could be viewed by God as honoring Christ Jesus and therefore being a form of faith. But the disjunction between baptism and confirmation and the historical assignment of task-oriented penance as well as a general dependence on works-oriented results as proofs of faith–in addition to the adherents themselves mentioning these things in interviews with them–causes this Southern Baptist deep regret regarding the eternal security of Catholics. To add to that sense of concern: the priests of the church consistently adapt and adopt church tradition and doctrine to permit the inclusion of adherents that focus on other ritualistic practices AND political “beliefs” via syncretism, focus on Mary as an object of reverence, revere relics of saints, emphasize miraculous events like images on bread or appearances of visions, etc. etc. etc.

    Which isn’t to say that God will not give them credit for faith. But that the doctrine they are taught seems rather diabolically designed to make it as hard as possible for God to give them credit while still emphasizing that faith in Christ alone is required for salvation and eternal security.

    That said: one could and should pray that God would reform the Roman Catholic Church up to and including its dispersal into more manageable congregations. The fact of a Bishop of Rome being called following being the archbishop of deeply corrupt Argentina actually could be seen as a hopeful positive. Add to that early reports of his emphasis on “shoe-leather evangelism” and I would think most Southern Baptists could find time to pray specifically that God would use this man to commence the needed deep reform of the Roman Catholic Church.

    • Jess Alford says

      Greg Harvey,

      I don’t think there is a difference in Baptizing a one month old and a three or four old.

      As far as rituals go, does a song, a prayer, a offering, special song,
      sermon, and dismissal prayer sound familiar?

      Trying to get people saved without being convicted of sin sounds like pegan evangelism to me.

      We Baptist need to be reformed in a major way. We still preach and teach tithing, (law,) not Grace, (giving,).

      We have ritzy, ritualistic, revivals, and expect a great movement of
      God.

      In today’s church, I don’t know how much right we have to look down on others.

      • Greg Harvey says

        I’m not any less open about my concerns regarding Southern Baptists. And I’m one of the people who looks down his nose the least at Catholics, to be honest. These are well-considered concerns presented in a format that is designed to respond to the original post. The only word in there that is provocative is the word “diabolically”. That is my sense that–in the tradition of the Screwtape Letters–the enemy has been successful in undermining the message of the Gospel through building in very distracting doctrine that isn’t biblical. I’m not even blaming the bureaucracy that runs the RCC for that in all cases.

        Bureaucracies are at times precisely dysfunctional. But so, too, can the local church be.

        I have written about my personal preference of delaying baptism until approximately age 12, against tithing as law, against prohibition of consumption of alcohol as law, and for confrontation on the depravity of sin as part of the profession of faith. So I’m hardly one who defends Southern Baptists while attacking others. I’m an equally opportunity offender.

        • Jess Alford says

          Greg Harvey,

          Sir, I agree and God bless you. I also agree with you on delaying Baptism until age twelve. I didn’t know how much I agree with
          you until now.

      • says

        Jess,

        There have been a couple of your posts that I have really not agreed with. And I have kept quiet. But on this one I simply can’t.

        And that’s because I agree completely with you. As a former music minister, I more than a few recognize the ritual of Baptist services. And oh my how many complaints I get when we change even the smallest portion of “the plan”.

        We truly do all need reform. Glad I could participate in agreement! Thanks for the words.

  16. Randall Cofield says

    Could Catholics be a “false religion, cult, or something else?”

    Andy, after reading your list of Catholic dogmas (all of which I was already aware) the first unfiltered thought that went through my mind was this:

    That more closely resembles ancient paganism than Christianity.

  17. Jeff says

    I am no expert in Catholicism and I am in agreement that they are a church that is not a church with a gospel that is not the gospel and a portion of Bible that is not the Bible.
    While Catholicism has its share of doctrinal problems, ultimately, in its institutional ideology as well as its practical effects, it resembles the fruit of Satan’s promise that men shall be as gods. However sincere, and however unintentional many honest catholics may be, the errors of men often match the promies of the devil. In the institutional sense, the idea that the pope is infallible “Ex Cathedra” is a religious rendition “ye shall be as gods”. In the practical fallout and practical sense, mainstream catholicism today is hoping the new pope will “catch the church up” to the world. In other words, according to several surveys, the prevailing sentiment among Catholics is that their church and pope should conform to the trending times of society. Such a view betrays who the “main street catholic” looks to as their spiritual and moral authority. Now whether this is a result of their doctrine, or “lack thereof”, both their “Ex Cathedra” idea and their social sentiment are subtle suggestions that man can write his own music, and fashion his own tune. http://changeworthmaking.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/the-new-pope-and-the-old-problem/

    • Greg Harvey says

      Then there is this passage and especially the bolded section:

      John 10:31-39 HCSB

      31 Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone Him.

      32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. Which of these works are you stoning Me for?”

      33 “We aren’t stoning You for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because You—being a man—make Yourself God.”

      34 Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your scripture,[i] I said, you are gods?[j] 35 If He called those whom the word of God came to ‘gods’—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say, ‘You are blaspheming’ to the One the Father set apart and sent into the world, because I said: I am the Son of God? 37 If I am not doing My Father’s works, don’t believe Me. 38 But if I am doing them and you don’t believe Me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand[k] that the Father is in Me and I in the Father.” 39 Then they were trying again to seize Him, yet He eluded their grasp.

  18. Bruce H. says

    The more I think about this the more I am convinced that our approach to all other religions that promote works-salvation should be as clear as black and white. If God said that the only way to heaven is by grace through faith in the finished work of His Son, we must recognize that religion for what it is; false. Then we are able to deal with those who espouse works-salvation the way Christ would. Only Christ will be their Judge, not us. We live in peace without being condescending toward them.

    Works-based salvation is such an infinite offense to a Holy God that it staggers the imagination. How does God display patience toward them? His Attributes must be strained every eternal moment. Even when Christians think our works please God there should be great fear for the offense. It is all of grace and we must fear God for the sinner and ourselves, as well.

    • mike white says

      Bruce H.
      I want to assure you btother that we serve a great and mighty God whose Attributes are never strained by us rebel people.

    • Bart Barber says

      I don’t have any questions about Catholic baptism. Nor do I have any questions about New Testament baptism.

      • Christiane says

        Hi Pastor Barber,
        the Vatican Catechism reference to do with Baptism is given for anyone who has questions about the Catholic doctrine and practice of Baptism, as several comments indicated that there was some confusion about it.

        If I give references, it is meant to clear up misunderstandings about what Catholics believe, and is meant to be helpful in that respect.

        As to the ‘diversity’ in the Catholic Church, I don’t think it includes sacrificing to tribal gods, no. I am not familiar with the incident you describe or the name of the Catholic priest involved; but I can imagine that the reaction of the Church in finding out about it would be to respond appropriately. If you have any references, names, or other details that you can share, I can try to find out something about this, as it sounds like this priest is in need of help.

        Always best to try to find out about other faith traditions by going to the source. I did. And it is good to try to sort out what is the expression and practice of a healthy diversity from what is aberrant. That takes a lot of time and patience, but trying to understand always does. The rewards are worth the difficulties encountered.

        • Bart Barber says

          Christiane,

          The place to report is the entire Archdiocese of Dakar. In my book, I count going to Senegal and speaking with dozens upon dozens of Catholics in various parishes to amount to “going to the source” when the question is “what varieties of Catholic practice are there?”

          Thanks.

          • Christiane says

            Hi BART,
            I will talk to more knowledgeable people than myself about what you have said. The little research I did on the web did not produce much, so I will ask them what is known about such occurrences.

            Thank YOU for sharing what you have witnessed. You likely have uncovered something aberrant and the priest involved does need to be reported so that he can receive help.

  19. mike white says

    Evangelizing Catholics in the USA?
    What about the millions on SBC rolls who never or hardly ever come to chuch? Lets remove the log from our own eye first.

    • Dave Miller says

      I’m not sure that the two are mutually exclusive. No one has suggested we only evangelize Catholics, Mike. But we should evangelize all who are lost, and who have a false basis of faith that does not save.

      • Jess Alford says

        Dave,

        I’m not sure the two are mutually exculusive? Are you saying there could be a difference between a Baptist apostate and a Catholic apostate? Are you saying all Catholics are lost?

        • Dave Miller says

          That is most definitely not what I said. My point is that evangelizing lost Baptists and evangelizing Catholics can be done at the same time.

          But I do not believe that Catholicism is a genuine Christian faith. It proclaims a false gospel that condemns. I do believe that there are some who, by the grace of God, find Christ in spite of their Catholic faith, but not because of it.

  20. Adam G. in NC says

    Reading this makes me wonder, “have we totally left the Reformation behind?”

    “American Evangelicalism” has almost become an oxymoron.

    • says

      Adam,

      I think the answer is yes. I’m not sure everyone is upset about that. And out of those who are, many of us would like to point strictly to doctrine.

      But the truth is we don’t preach the gospel the same, hence we can’t enforce church discipline, we lighten up on “indoctrinating children” and then struggle to find confessional evangelicalism in our churches. The proper preaching of the gospel (which is properly being shouted) is the right first step in restoration. It is the proper restorative evangelicalism of the church.

  21. volfan007 says

    Let’s see…the Roman Catholic Church teaches a works salvation. They pray to the Saints. They worship Mary. They believe that the Pope’s words are on the same level as Scripture, itself. They confess thier sins to a man, rather than to God. Hummmmmm….

    Yep, I’d say that they’re a completely different kind of bird than a true Believer in Jesus is. The Roman Catholic Church is apostate. They are full of false teachers.

    David

    • Christiane says

      Catholics ‘worship’ Mary?

      my goodness, all my years in Catholic schools trained by nuns, my time raising my own children in Catholic schools, my time teaching in a Catholic school . . . and I never learned this?

      My question is ‘why is a Baptist minister teaching tha Catholics worship Mary when Catholics don’t teach that they should worship Mary?’ My great-aunt in Canada was a cloistered nun, VOL, and if Sister St. Gabriel had ever heard me say that I taught my students to ‘worship Mary’, it would have killed her, and I’m not kidding you.

      So how did it come about that you can say such a thing and think it is true? I don’t think you are a liar. No way. I just think you’ve got the wrong idea, and are spreading that idea as a correct one.

      • Dave Miller says

        It may not be official doctrine, but it is common practice, especially in some third world nations. In Honduras, the missionary we worked with told us that Honduran Catholics have much more devotion to Mary than to Jesus.

        Veneration of Mary is a false doctrine – an evil practice. She was a sinner like the rest of us, deserving of hell and needing the salvation purchased by her son. Too much ungodly mythology promoted concerning her. No wonder some slip into an unhealthy focus on Mary. (And the saints.)

        • Christiane says

          Hi DAVID
          I believe Mary was full of grace, and we call her ‘Blessed’ in my Church.

          That is very different from what you teach here about Mary, I know.

          • volfan007 says

            Christiane,

            Do Catholics pray to Mary? Do Catholics believe she wasnt a sinner in need of saving?

            When you pray to someone, then you’re worshipping them. When you believe that someone is somehow above needing saving, then you are making her a god.

            David

          • Christiane says

            DAVID,
            Catholics ask Mary to pray for them. They do not ‘worship’ her. The only object of Catholic worship is the Holy Trinity.

            Mary is a creature of God and His servant by her own words in sacred Scripture. Catholics do NOT worship creatures of God, they worship God, the Creator of all things.

            as for Mary being a sinner, there is this:

            (from the Gospel of St. Luke 1:28)
            “And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!’”

            we understand this Scripture to mean that, although Mary descended from Adam and Eve,
            Mary, being ‘full of grace’ was especially preserved by God from the stain of sin because of His plan for her . . . hence ‘God is with thee’ was also included in Gabriel’s greeting

            The term traditionally translated “full of grace” or “highly favored” is kecharitomene.
            This past perfect form denotes something that happened in the past and continues into the present.

            I am aware that Southern Baptists do not interpret that verse in the same way that Catholics do.
            I am aware that in my Church it has always been taught that Mary was not a sinner.

          • Dave Miller says

            We need no intercessor but Christ. His righteousness is sufficient. We can learn from redeemed sinners like Mary, but we do not need her intercession to get to God. Jesus us the Christian’s high priest. No one else.

          • Christiane says

            http://www.openbible.info/topics/praying_for_each_other

            is it biblical for the members of the Body of Christ to pray for one another, yes . . . ‘pray for me’, ‘pray for us’ . . . these are allowed

            as for those who have gone ahead to the place that Our Lord has prepared for them, how has the second death harmed them that they would no longer care for us and pray for us ?

            I would agree with Martha of Ireland, this:
            “” Who is more alive than the ones in the presence of very Life? ”

            That Christ is the eternal High Priest is assured. That He is God in the second Person of the Holy Trinity is known. That the people who are in His Presence, in His loving arms are near to Him, is assured. That they remain a part of the Body of Christ to which we are united is true. What is that connection, if not one of care and compassion for one another in His Name?

            What is the Southern Baptist understanding of the Communion of Saints?

          • Jess Alford says

            Christiane,

            Southern Baptist have a great understanding of the Communion of Saints, since we are the Saints of God.

          • Christiane says

            Still would love to know if someone can share the Southern Baptist teachings on the relationship between the Body of Christ AND the Communion of Saints. Thanks, if someone has time and you can help.

          • Dave Miller says

            First of all, you know that biblical Christians in general and Southern Baptists in particular do not have official church positions on issues. Any time you want to know the official Baptist view of anything, you can simply read the Baptist Faith & Message. If it is not in there, there is generally not an official position.

            We do not follow the dictates of the pope or some official church hierarchy that interprets the Bible for us and tells us what our official position is. We simply study the Bible and come to what we think the Bible says.

            You should know this, and probably do, though you continue to try to pigeon-hole and categorize Southern Baptists in certain ways.

          • Dave Miller says

            Now, as to the “Communion of Saints,” the biblical position is simple. The term “saint” in the Bible describes every believer, every sinner who has been redeemed by the Blood of Christ and given his righteousness.

            The Bible opposes the Catholic mythology of some special category of Christians known as saints. There is no support in scripture for the idea that there exists a special category of believers who attain the status as saints. That is extrabiblical and in fact, contrary to biblical teachings.

            As I’ve heard several preachers say, the Bible only has two categories, the “saints” and the “aints.” Either someone is a saint or he is lost, headed to hell and needing the redemption that only comes through Christ’s blood.

            Your question cannot be answered because it is based on a false premise developed by Catholics of a special class of Christians who have extra righteousness with which they can bless normal, run-of-the-mill Christians. As the song says, “Our hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

            The saints that have gone on have no boon, no blessing, no extra righteousness to donate to those saints (all of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ) who are alive today. They needed the righteousness of Christ as much as those of us who are saints today do.

          • Christiane says

            Oh David . . . there are no ‘run-of-the-mill’ Christians. That kind of talk makes me very sad.

          • Dave Miller says

            Of course there aren’t. That is my point.

            There are only two kinds of people. There are lost sinners living in rebellion against God and headed for an eternal hell, and there are those who have trusted Christ as Savior and Lord by faith and are redeemed. That group is what the Bible refers to as saints.

            The Catholic system of falsely elevating some people to a non-biblical “Saint” status is what creates the “run-of-the-mill” Christian category. You effectively create a third category, Instead of believers and non-believers, Catholic mythology has created three – unbelievers, believers, and the super-duper saints.

            Totally foreign to God’s revelation in scripture.

          • Christiane says

            One example of a ‘saint’ who is recognized is Therese of Lisieux, who died very young after much suffering. She was not ‘important’ in the eyes of the world, having been a cloistered nun and perishing to tuberculosis in her early twenties . . .
            why is she recognized?
            Because she loved Our Lord, and served her sisters with great patience and love and kindness. She is also a ‘Doctor of the Church’ along with people like Augustine, Chrysostom, so many vastly gifted men who shared their gifts with the Church to build it up.

            But why IS Therese a ‘Doctor of the Church’ ?
            it was after her death that her sister discovered her writings, and passed them to superiors who sent them on to Rome . . . there, in the simple writings of this young nun, the Church discovered that she had shared her gift of love for Our Lord in a way that helped others to become closer to Christ, and the signature of her writing was her humble spirit before the Lord and her complete child-like trust in Him.

            I expect Southern Baptists can understand this somewhat: you have Lottie Moon (who is a recognized saint among the Anglican Church for her missionary efforts).
            The title ‘saint’ is not given to Lottie by Southern Baptists formally, but they do point to her example and she still inspires the generosity of Baptists who have given so much materially and personally to the missions so they could bring Christ to the world.
            Lottie Moon lives now in the Kingdom of Our Lord forever
            alive ‘in Him’. She is honored because she served Him with great love for the Chinese people. It doesn’t get more ‘saintly’ than that.

          • BDW says

            When I read all the comments to this post, I’m reminded of one very interesting fact – the most pro-Catholic Baptist in the U.S., the Baptist with the strongest ties to the Vatican, the Baptist who has spent his entire life devoted largely to ecumenical relationships with Catholic leadership…..is not one of my fellow inerrancy-denying moderate Baptists or “liberal” Baptists in yours world.

            No, the Baptist most welcoming and affirming of Catholics as Christians is a Southern Baptist who still attends y’alls annual meeting and still is connected in Southern Baptist life and certainly has had a quiet but important influence over the years.

            With Timothy George in the SBC, maybe y’alls tent is pretty big after all!!

          • BDW says

            Would you like to hear my south Georgia accent? I know how to put it on thick when the occasion arises.

          • volfan007 says

            The way people talk on Hee Haw is correct English.

            Yall have a good day, now…ya hear?

            David

      • Greg Harvey says

        I’ll offer a Wikipedia article as a collection of a pedestrian view that leads Southern Baptists to frequently repeat the claim. The term “veneration” in the article is a little more precise. “Praying to saints”, though, is considered similarly problematic even under the more innocuous “intercession of saints”.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blessed_Virgin_Mary_%28Roman_Catholic%29

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercession_of_saints

        P.S. I sinned again and linked twice.

      • Bart Barber says

        “Worship” vs “Veneration” is a distinction without a difference. Catholics have a higher view of Mary than Greeks had of Diana.

        • Christiane says

          Do Catholics have a ‘high view’ of Mary?

          I hope so.
          She was just a young Jewish girl of no more than fifteen, maybe younger, when Gabriel appeared to her. She gave birth and raised the Child Jesus with the help of His foster-father, Joseph. She was there for His first miracle. She was there at the Crucifixion. She was there at Pentecost. Her words are recorded in sacred Scripture in various places . . . the ‘Fiat’, the ‘Magnificat’, . . .

          and then there is one place in sacred Scripture where her words are most profoundly honored as they come down through the centuries to us, this in John 2:5

          ” . . . “Do whatever He tells you.”

          I think even Southern Baptists listen to her words still. :)

        • Dave Miller says

          I am aware that you do not bind yourself to the teachings of the Catholic Church where they disagree with your own (ie – your support of abortion in contradistinction to church teaching).

          But to try to maintain that Catholics do not pray to Mary or venerate her strains the limits of credulity.

          Years ago, I used to watch hours of EWTN – watching masses, listening to discussions. It is what convinced me that the Catholic Church is not the church of Jesus Christ, but a deviation from it.

          And your representations of it do not match up with that which the Catholic network taught.

      • Andy says

        Christiane,

        What would you call this? I believe praying to someone is a form of worship. Jesus clearly taught that prayer was directed solely to the Father, who is in heaven.

        Traditional version:

        Hail Mary, full of grace.
        Our Lord is with thee.
        Blessed art thou among women,
        and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
        Jesus.
        Holy Mary, Mother of God,
        pray for us sinners,
        now and at the hour of our death.
        Amen.

        Hail Holy Queen:

        Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
        our life, our sweetness and our hope.
        To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve:
        to thee do we send up our sighs,
        mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
        Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
        thine eyes of mercy toward us,
        and after this our exile,
        show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
        O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.

        Memorare:

        Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
        that never was it known
        that any one who fled to thy protection,
        implored thy help
        or sought thy intercession,
        was left unaided.
        Inspired by this confidence,
        We fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
        to thee do we come, before thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful;
        O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
        despise not our petitions,
        but in thy mercy hear and answer them. Amen.

        • Christiane says

          ANDY,
          I call it being within the Body of Christ, the Communion of Saints . . . where a Christian may ask the help of another Christian to pray for them.

          Catholics ask for the prayers of others.
          Mary, the blessed mother of Our Lord, is not excluded from those whom we may ask to pray for us. Nor are any who have gone before us to live in eternity with Our Lord.

          Mary never asked for anyone to point to her. She always pointed to Our Lord. She always directed people to Him. When Southern Baptists come into the Kingdom that Christ has prepared for them, they will know her as ‘blessed’, even if now they see her differently.

          • Dave Miller says

            Where does the Bible ever authorize seeking the intercession of dead, but redeemed sinners? Is there any biblical example of anyone ever praying to a dead person for help getting to God.

            Praying to Mary and the “saints” is such a waste. We have access to God through Jesus Christ who is our only and sufficient intercessor. No one need go to Mary to get to God. No one need pray to Peter or Paul or any of the other redeemed sinners of church history. They have nothing to offer us. They were simply sinners, deserving of hell, who were given eternal life by the grace of God.

            And seeking their intercession is an insult to the priestly work of Christ.

            And, those who come into the kingdom will ALL come by grace in Christ alone through faith in Christ alone apart of any works or religious rituals, we will not regard any human being as superior to another. We are all sinners, made saints by the gracious work of Christ. Mary and I might stand side by side as we praise the Savior, but she will have no place as mediatrix or co-redemptrix or anything else.

            All have sinned (including Mary) and are only saved by the work of our ONE AND ONLY priest – Jesus Christ.

          • Bart Barber says

            So, if I go to my local Catholic parish and tell the priest that I’m there to pray to my Great-Aunt Myrtle to ask her to intercede for me because I’m having surgery next week, is that local priest going to say, “Good! We’re all in favor of asking dead people to pray for you, so long as they were good Christians.”

            Or, is it really quite disingenuous to suggest that Catholics are just practicing what all Christians recognize as intercessory prayer? Isn’t the real question here one of whether there are just a few people who are more than mere Christians…who occupy a super-human status that enables them to make a prayer count in a way that normal people’s prayers do not? If not, why won’t my local priest help me to send a prayer off to C. H. Spurgeon? Or, indeed, G. K. Chesterton.

          • Andy says

            Repetitive prayers used to accomplish salvific grace are completely different than intercessory prayer requested of another LIVING person. The prayers mentioned above are used just for that purpose.

            Mary never asked anyone to point to her, is true. It has been the work of sinful man to elevate the worth of another sinful person above that which is biblical. It is very unfortunate that it has happened, but it cannot be denied.

          • Christiane says

            well BART and DAVID,

            the Catholic concept of the ‘Mystical Body of Christ’ can’t be too far from your understanding of the Body of Christ . . .

            and those born into Christ are already living an eternal life, as those who have gone before us are with Our Lord in eternity . . . so maybe for Catholics, death is not the ‘barrier’ in the Body of Christ that is for Southern Baptists . . . but maybe I don’t know enough about how you see the Body of Christ and the connection of all Christian people within it, which may be the case.

            ‘no longer I but Christ Who lives within me’ may mean something very different to both of you and to me, but I don’t know that.

          • Christiane says

            Hi PASTOR BART,

            ” “Good! We’re all in favor of asking dead people to pray for you, so long as they were good Christians.”

            I was thinking about what you wrote, and I came across a comment from Martha of Ireland, this:
            ” Who is more alive than the ones in the presence of very Life? ”

            I honestly think that Catholics don’t see ‘death’ the same way Southern Baptists see it as it pertains to Christians who died ‘in Christ’. And because of the way Catholics see the Body of Christ and the Communion of Saints, we are not so far from the ones we loved and who loved us who are now in the Presence of the Lord.

        • says

          WOW< Mary is not MY advocate. I'm amazed at how Christiane and other Catholics and catholic sympathizers (Baptists with Catholic family members) do not deal with the problems that are being stated but white wash the fringe arguments and ignore the real problems.

          Going back to the original blog, well said! I DO believe there are some Catholic Christians, but not because of the RCC false doctrines. They are saved because they heard of Christ and trusted in Him alone.

          As to the idea whether there are the same % of elect in RCC as in SBC churches, what a sad comment. There are Christians where the gospel is preached. And it is not preached in the overwhelming number of Catholic churches and ministries.

        • Christiane says

          ANDY,

          you forgot to list a prayer of Mary’s that Southern Baptists might know:

          “My soul magnifies the Lord
          And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
          Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
          For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
          Because He Who is mighty has done great things for me,
          and holy is His Name;
          And His mercy is from generation to generation
          on those who fear Him.
          He has shown might with His arm,
          He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
          He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
          and has exalted the lowly.
          He has filled the hungry with good things,
          and the rich He has sent away empty.
          He has given help to Israel, His servant, mindful of His mercy
          Even as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.”

          • Dave Miller says

            I will ignore your snarky insult to Southern Baptists, but I would hope you could see the difference here.

            What you listed was a prayer that Mary prayed to God.

            The prayers Andy listed are not to God, but to Mary. I would hope you could see the difference between Catholics praying to Mary and Mary praying to God.

            And, again, despite all the snark, biblical Christians honor Mary. She was a sinner like the rest of us, nothing special. But God chose her and she obeyed, becoming an important part of God’s work through Jesus Christ (and Christ alone).

            If we cannot move beyond snark, it might be best to end the conversation.

  22. Randall Cofield says

    Notice the last few lines of the prayer to Mary listed above by Andy:

    We fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
    to thee do we come, before thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful;
    O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
    despise not our petitions,
    but in thy mercy hear and answer them. Amen.

    This seems to indicate belief on the part of the petitioner that Mary is capable of answering their prayer.

    That places this entire kerfuffle on a whole other level….

    • Christiane says

      Hi RANDALL COFIELD,

      It would, if ANDY had given the correct version of the Memorare.
      His version is not the same as the correct one. He probably made a mistake in typing, as I think may have happened.

      Look up the ‘The Memorare’ and you will see that it ends with:
      “. . . in thy mercy, hear and answer me”

      the Catholic ending puts the meaning in the correct light, RANDALL

    • Christiane says

      Hi RANDALL,

      the words of the prayer end THIS way:
      “but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen”

  23. says

    I have heard this “I’m only asking Mary to pray for me” so many times and I’m thankful that some example prayers were posted above. Here’s another. I think the next time I ask someone to pray for me, I’ll say this (http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=316):

    O Mother of Perpetual Help
    To thee we come imploring help.
    Behold us here, from far and near,
    To ask of thee our help to be;
    Behold us here, from far and near,
    To ask of thee our help to be.

    Perpetual help we beg of thee;
    Our souls from sin and sorrow free;
    Direct our wandering feet aright,
    And be thyself out own true light;
    Direct our wandering feet aright,
    And be thyself out own true light.

    And when this life is o’er for me,
    This last request I ask of thee:
    Obtain for me in heaven this grace,
    To see my God there face to face;
    Obtain for me in heaven this grace,
    To see my God there face to face.

    But I’ll replace “O Mother of Perpetual Help” with Dave:

    O Dave
    To thee we come imploring help.
    Behold us here, from far and near,
    To ask of thee our help to be;
    Behold us here, from far and near,
    To ask of thee our help to be.

    Perpetual help we beg of thee;
    Our souls from sin and sorrow free;
    Direct our wandering feet aright,
    And be thyself out own true light;
    Direct our wandering feet aright,
    And be thyself out own true light.

    And when this life is o’er for me,
    This last request I ask of thee:
    Obtain for me in heaven this grace,
    To see my God there face to face;
    Obtain for me in heaven this grace,
    To see my God there face to face.

    And I’ll sleep well knowing that I’m not worshipping Dave.

    • Bart Barber says

      Jeff,

      Really, Christiane’s position here is disingenuous. I cannot tell whether she herself is disingenuous or whether she is genuinely repeating someone else’s disingenuous argument. But the fact of the matter is this:

      1. She asserts that the Catholic treatment of Mary is simply the same thing as what Christians do when they ask their fellow church members to intercede for them in prayer, but (as I pointed out and as she never addressed in reply), Catholics do not facilitate the submission of this kind of request to just ANY deceased believer. Rather, there is a complex doctrine of canonization and supererogation by which a few deceased Christians are accorded powers of intercession beyond those of mere mortals.

      2. She states that Mary is not an object of worship among Roman Catholics—that such a thing is unknown among Roman Catholics, but she either does not know or does not mention that a great many Roman Catholics, while maintaining a distinction between “hyper-dulia” and “latria,” nevertheless describe these both as two varieties of “worship.” Indeed, even New Advent’s Catholic Encyclopedia in its article on worship describes Roman behavior toward the saints and Mary as “worship.”

      3. She acts as though the Roman Catholic position on Mary is merely the acknowledgement of such biblical language as the statements that she is “blessed” and “full of grace,” and asserts that Roman Catholics do not conflate Mary with God, but she does not mention that Roman Catholics have begun to refer to Mary as co-Redemptrix, co-Mediatrix, and co-Advocatrix. Also, this again shows the disingenuousness of the downright dishonest argument that Roman Catholic prayer to Mary is equivalent to intercessory prayer among living believers. The Roman Catholic position is that we pray to Mary not because she passes our prayer along to Jesus, who then advocates for us, but that Mary herself advocates for us alongside Jesus.

      These, among many other items, show that Roman Catholic treatment of Mary, if it has not crossed the boundary to heresy, is frighteningly close.

  24. Dave Miller says

    NOTE: threading has broken down again. This is in response to comment 100 by Christiane)

    Saints is just a translation (probably a bad one) of the Greek word holy. A saint is one who has been made holy by the blood of Christ.

    I would challenge you to show a single verse of Scripture that indicates that “saint” is a special category of Christian elevated from everyone else.

    Please, no references to Catholic dogma or quotes or poems. These things are decided by the revelation of Scripture and that is all I am interested in discussing.

  25. Dave Miller says

    To sum it all up, the Body of Christ IS the communion of the saints – those set apart for God through the Blood of Christ.

    This, too, is in a series of comments in response to #100.

  26. says

    As a Baptist who came out of the Roman Catholic tradition (I also went to Catholic school in the early grades) one of the first thing I gave up when I got saved as a young teen was praying the “Hail Mary”. Also, if Mary is not being venerated, why are there statues of her in Roman Catholic churches, and why to people pray to the statues? And how is it assumed that Mary hears the simultaneous prayers of multitudes of Catholics all over the world, even of those not praying audibly but only in their thoughts, if she is truly being viewed as just another human fellow-believer?

    • Christiane says

      Hi MIKE DAVIS
      you ask:
      “why do people pray to the statues?”

      they don’t . . . why would they ?
      The sin of idolatry is a great sin in Catholicism.
      There is a crucifix in my bedroom that belonged to my parents of blessed memory.
      When I look at that crucifix, I don’t ‘pray to it’ or ‘worship it’.

      Is the crucifix important to me?
      Yes, very much.
      When my father passed away, the family gathered to sort through his things, much of which we donated to charity. We each took something to remind us of him, and when my sister asked me what all I wanted, I said ‘only the crucifix’, everything else can go to the thrift shops, but I would very much like to have Pop’s crucifix.

      It was the only thing I wanted from all those material possessions.
      It was the only thing at the time that seemed valuable to me, although it’s just made of some metals of no particular worth.

  27. Jess Alford says

    Jesus also said there has not been a man born of woman greater than John the Baptist, never the less the least in the Kindom of Heaven is as great as he.

  28. Jess Alford says

    Dave, In response to 104, if there is such a thing as a double Amen,
    you deserve it.

  29. Joni Hannigan says

    Given your Q&A, I’m not sure I understand the nature of your discourse. If in fact you didn’t know the teens in front of you, I’m wondering why they would ask you such a random question. If they did know you and trusted you as a person of responsibility on behalf of a church or seminary, I can more understand why they might ask and why you might feel ambivalent about your answer. In any event, I agree we need always to be prepared to give an answer.

    If I was asked such a question, I might simply have answered:

    1) Historically the Roman Catholic Church is considered part of the Christian tradition, just like Methodists and Lutherans and others, as opposed to other major world religions like Islam and Buddhism, but;
    2) If you mean Christian as in the sense of an evangelical Christian, then there are major differences between the two. Namely, there are Catholics and Protestants. Evangelical Christians make up the memberships of many Protestant churches. The Protestants historically set out to reform the Catholic church. There are different key doctrinal differences.
    3) If you are interested, we can talk further about the biblical definition of a “Christian.”

    Now, I realize this is a lot. But I’ve been involved in many such discussions with Catholic relatives, teens, students, tourists, fellow hotels guests, and others.

    I grew up Catholic, as did my husband. Went to Catholic school on and off for years. Was saved when I was about 12. Became Southern Baptist when I joined North Phoenix Baptist as a teenager. Teens are smart. They understand a lot more than we give them credit for.

    I taught high school literature, English, and journalism before working for a Baptist state paper and had many productive conversations about the old Catholic Church and traditions stemming from British and American literature — like Canterbury Tales.

    I believe in building bridges by being informed and sharing that knowledge. I also believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to use our gracious encounters to bring people to conviction.

    Many blessings,
    Joni