Catholics and Protestants and Vice Versa

 95 thesisA most interesting phenomenon is Jess’ ability to house a mass of different flavorings over along the Watchtower. These flavorings consist of nearly every different contention that names itself Christianity, and yet, although the strife is evident, a sense of civility is normally present. Her site is productive even amidst the rift.

The rift will no doubt remain. It is the net between the volley, and it seems a net with no hope of removal.

Through the course of my writing here, I often wonder why all of professing Christianity cannot come under one roof for the greater good of being the body that stands for things that are honorable; things that are pure and commendable. In an offering of highlight, I suppose I will always see the urgency that we find our common ground and stand firm there, for the sake of morality if nothing else.

There is something grander though at stake, to say we will unite despite every difference, for every difference includes an understanding of how God enacts His salvation upon His image-bearers.

Every good Protestant at some point, poised with even the hint of curiosity, has enquired, “What is it that divides me from my dear friend worshipping up the road in the Catholic Church?”

That inquiry is too often responded to with slanders against Rome that are absolutely false. We would be told often that the Catholic Church is a works-based religion, one where faith plays no role. There is no truth in a statement such as this whatsoever.

From all that I can gather, every Catholic who knows the Catechism of the Church will confess that sinners are saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

The contention, it will seem, is in the Latin Sola declarations, for in these only-s, the Sacraments, as the Catholic believer would see them, become second cousin ordinances; they lose their mystery.

catholic protestantThe Protestant denominations confess that salvation is enacted through faith alone and that this faith generates good works, the first of which is confessing Jesus is Lord through baptism. The Catholic sees salvation given through faith, but that the Church is a necessary instrument in the implementation process, enacted through the Sacraments, beginning with Baptism. The core issue is how the sinner finds salvation in Christ. For one, it is through faith alone; the other, through faith by Sacraments. Both will declare it is all of grace.

Personally, and sadly, I see no opportunity to reconcile fully, for the divide is too great. However, I do think we can understand one another better and remove the false premises, those that keep us from uniting to stand against the tyranny of the day as citizens of the nations of this world. We do, after all, possess like moral attributes.

Vatican II demonstrated the willingness of the Catholic Church to humbly acknowledge (sort of – kind of) true believers can exist outside of their visible walls. At the very least, they offered interaction.

Some Protestants have shown a willingness to be extenders of grace themselves and consider seriously why Rome does what Rome does.

These are both monumental steps in a positive direction if we will keep a voice against the atrocities inflicting our societies as the godless gain more and more ground in lands that once hoisted goodness and compassion. There is that age-old adage to remember, “A house divided against itself…”

See Also: Sin and the State, Anglican Heritage, Anglican Attitudes, Scripture and Tradition, and Who was Jesus?

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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35 Responses to Catholics and Protestants and Vice Versa

  1. lbtk says:

    While rituals do NOT save us, being saved by Christ’s blood makes me WANT to participate in the ritual of baptism (as Jesus did upon entering His ministry), in the ritual of communion (which Jesus did with His disciples before His crucifixion and admonished us to “do this in remembrance of Me”), and in the ritual of attending worship services with other believers. I have been through many hardships in my life and my church family has always been a wonderful support system. Going to church and following the rituals don’t make anyone a Christian, much like standing in a garage doesn’t make one a car — but if you’re in the “garage” (AKA church), at least you can get a tune up. Sandy

  2. TikkTok says:

    Start with the Reformation. Obviously, Luther and Calvin etc had basic theoligical difference. I, personally, adore my many Catholic friends. I cannot, however, get past transubstantiation. Other theological differences aside, this and confession/absolution of sins by a man do me in.

    I have a friend who goes to confession sometimes more than twice a day, especially when travelling {because if she dies and hasn’t gone recently, she couldn’t live with herself), to make sure she is “ready” should something happen to her on the road.

    Honestly, one attitude that bothers me is the “we’re the only real Christians because we’re the only church started by Jesus” bit. And see, now we’ve come back to theology, too.

    There are lots of Catholic basics that I personally don’t agree with. That being said, there are some Evangelical/Pentacostal stances I don’t agree with, either.

    And perhaps ironically, I still think we are all parts of the Body of Christ. The hands and feet function completely differently, yet are still part of the body. I believe there are basic truths (virgin birth, resurrection, etc) that are the core belief which binds us and makes us part of the body of worship…………

    • mtsweat says:

      Hi Tikk Tok! It is good to see you this way, and very good to hear your contributing thoughts. I’m in a similar boat, with different takes on some Catholic views, but am learning there are explanations for why they do what they do, even understandable. Thanks greatly for the good words and many blessings to you.

      • TikkTok says:

        🙂 As I recall, there was an effort to reconcile everyone, but then I never heard how far it went.

        I think it’s good to focus on common truths and share a good measure of grace with regard to different practices. I think we probably have far more in common than we have differences. 🙂

        • mtsweat says:

          Yes, something like the Manhatten something or another. I remember when it started gaining some ground, some hardline Reformers raised a fuss and it soon became another nice thought that did not materialize. I’m certainly not for convincing believers to accept doctrine their consciences cannot accept, just find a path of civility that allows us to make the best of what can be accomplished with a louder unified voice, if for nothing else, moral issues. Good houghts you offer.

  3. RJ Dawson says:

    Thanks Mike. Great post. You must also like riding rocket bikes…

    History is what it is. “Church” organizations have a history. Whoever starts a new organization has obviously rejected the one the Lord started.

    A veil was created a long time ago to hide what happened in the beginning. It is only by lifting that veil and going beyond that veil and traveling back to the original teachings and example of our Lord and Messiah, and the fruit and demonstration of His teachings and example in the Book of Acts, that we will see there was never a need to create something new, but merely join what was already created.

    Much of the Great Reformation was obviously about needed reformation.

    Here’s the truth of the matter: The original was the only fully correct community. And two, the original is in the process of coming forth after centuries of stair-stepping back to the past to recreate it in the future.

    In the beginning the Lord created a perfect community.

    In the end He will return for a perfect community.

    In the middle is a strand of that perfect community that never, ever ceased to exist, but existed alongside many man-made creations that possibly had a measure of light, but also contained much darkness, simply because they were not the original.

    Again, history proves this. Acting like the Hatfields and McCoys prolongs the war. Dumping everything that is not God, and then conforming to the original—the prototype if you will—the original example and blueprint that WORKED—is the only answer.

    When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. [Acts 2:1]

    • mtsweat says:

      “In the beginning the Lord created a perfect community.

      In the end He will return for a perfect community.”

      That is too good RJ! Kind of like one big wave, eh? Clear and to the point… thanks greatly good friend.

  4. Jeff says:

    I love Jess’s blog. I find great inspiration in the variety of postings that I find there. And your post here was very well said. I have learned a lot from Catholicism over the years.

    • mtsweat says:

      You and me too Jeff. It’s exciting to see the interaction between those who for a very long time have put up barriers. I’ve also become intrigued with understanding why different nameplates do the things they do, and as of so far, have found there are some serious misunderstandings and sometimes even downright fraudulent misrepresentations. Learning… blessings good friend.

  5. ccragamuffin says:

    Interesting and thought provoking post. Pope Benedict, while still named Cardinal Ratzinger, said that “In our continuing discussions, we seek no unity other than the unity of the truth.” I speak a hearty “Amen” to that. We seem to forget that Truth is the revelation of God of his own Personhood, fully expressed in Christ Jesus. Often those who claim that they are united in their understanding of truth, fight amongst their own denomination over what That truth is. I wonder what message that sends to a lost world? And what principality and power benefits from our disunity?

    For those who are sincerely interested in what Evangelicals and Catholics have in common…what we can stand shoulder to shoulder on…a great resource is ECT…Evangelicals And Christians Together and the statement they issued in a document entitled “The Gift Of Salvation” in 1994. It was signed by many leaders from both “sides “. It states among other things that , “Justification is central to the scriptural account of salvation, and its meaning has been much debated between Protestant s and Catholics…we agree that justification is not earned by any good works or merits of our own; it is entirely God’s gift, conferred through the Father’s sheer graciousness…the New Testament makes it clear that the gift of salvation is received through faith”. The complete statement includes all that is needed to lead an individual to salvation by grace alone in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part. This is true whether I am sharing the Gospel with a lost Catholic, a lost Baptist, or a lost anyone.

    It seems sad that we will spend precious and limited resources of time, money, Internet, education, health, and friendship on divisiveness. Do I spend as much on sharing the good news of the Gospel?

    • mtsweat says:

      Very well said. The precious and limited time you speak of brings everything into perspective, for all of our time spent arguing specifics is time we are not spending proclaiming the Good News that Jesus saves sinners… which is of course the other common link we all share; we are all sinners in desperate need of grace. Thanks for the link, I will take a look. Thanks you CC, you are a provider of the sticky stuff that binds us together, also known as the love of Christ.

    • mtsweat says:

      From your source… said well.
      “As Christ is one, so the Christian mission is one. That one mission can be and should be advanced in diverse ways. Legitimate diversity, however, should not be confused with existing divisions between Christians that obscure the one Christ and hinder the one mission. There is a necessary connection between the visible unity of Christians and the mission of the one Christ. We together pray for the fulfillment of the prayer of Our Lord: “May they all be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, so also may they be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17) We together, Evangelicals and Catholics, confess our sins against the unity that Christ intends for all his disciples.”

  6. Steven Sawyer says:

    Mike, thank you so much for posting this. This is an excellent post. I have been struggling with the bickering between denominations for a few years now. I want to say a lot more, but will defer my thoughts to a future post on my blog. My first, and primary thought as I read your post and the thoughtful comments that followed is this. Whether you claim to be Protestant or Catholic, Jesus entire Gospel, and the solution to this spiritual dichotomy, in my opinion, boils down to one commandment: Love one another. Matthew 15:12, 17.

    • mtsweat says:

      Fantastic closing statement, Steven! Therein lies the link, “by this they will all know you are My disciples… by your love for one another.” I look forward to your thoughts on this in the future, and hey, it’s only a week away! 🙂

  7. NEO says:

    Jess does indeed do a remarkable job of keeping us all within some sort of reasonable bounds. I’ve never seen the like. The comments above are a fair sample of why I think we will never reunite, and the Orthodox and the Copts (who are kind of busy lately) haven’t even checked in yet 🙂

    In truth, i’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve made most of the progress we’re going to. We are completely able to cooperate with each other as necessary, and finally we have quit (mostly) denigrating each other, and starting the debate with cries of ‘Heretic’ on both sides.

    I also think that we act as a check one upon the other to keep us on the proper road, it seems that a church, like any other organization, if not subject to competition (in a sense) gets off track. maybe this is God’s way of keeping us all in check. But, as Churchill said, “It’s better to jaw, jaw, jaw, than to War, War, war.”

    Peace to you all. 🙂

    • mtsweat says:

      Yes, so true Neo. Both your comments of Jess and the stalemate dilemma. Plus, I treasure Churchill’s quote as if we can at least interact verbally without too much abuse, maybe we can be a united voice in our nation against some pretty awful stuff taking place.

      • NEO says:

        It’s an outstanding quote, in an appropriate context, of course. Lot’s of problems out there, we all agree 75-90% it time to quit proselytizing each other and work on the problems-TOGETHER. Now, if I could remember that, it would be a good start 😉

        • mtsweat says:

          Yes indeed. Funny you offer this quote as I recently read his analysis of the Middle East in his day, “Force, or perhaps force and bribery, are the only things that will be respected… we had better recognize it.” I’m glad he first chose to jaw, jaw, jaw.

          • NEO says:

            I’m convinced that the less we do there the better. The real answer for the west was phrased well a few years ago “Drill, Baby, Drill” We are here because Imperial Spain needed a secure route to Asia, nothing’s changed. We can either destroy them, or do our best to avoid them, I think. I prefer avoid. Stupid drawing of lines is unhelpful.

  8. I think this is an important post. I am glad that you see, where many Protestants do not, that so much of the rhetoric that Protestants throw at Catholics is empty and false. Thank you for your efforts.

    I admire Jess so much in her bottomless kindness and hospitality and her ability to welcome so many under one roof and keep them there. The love of God is like that — and it’s only love like that that gives us any hope of reunion. There are many disagreements that may never be resolved, but I pray every day that God will reunite His Church under one roof, in One Body, in One love.

    The ultimate issue, of course, is not any question of doctrine, but our fundamental principles of authority. Protestants see Catholics, in their submission to Holy Mother Church, as selling out the authority of the Bible to a manmade institution; while Catholics see Protestants as subsuming the authority of Christ’s Church to one’s individual interpretations of Scripture. I tend to think, for whatever it’s worth, that Scripture itself teaches the authority of the Church much more than it teaches Scripture itself as a model of authority.

    • mtsweat says:

      Very interesting and worthwhile thoughts. Yours is my prayer also. As an acknowledgement, I too see we (Protestants) as having taken an alarmingly apathetic approach to the Body of Christ and Her authority and urgency. We’ve generated the thought that the Church is optional, when, as you say, Scripture will permit no such thing… sad.

      • JessicaHof says:

        Thank you both for your very kind words – and if we can keep talking, it is better than the alternatives. You both do excellent jobs yourselves.

        • mtsweat says:

          Thanks Jess. A truly inspiring and informative site you established. Opening the door for communication is surely a positive thing. 🙂

  9. Planting Potatoes says:

    I agree – mostly – with your post except….I believe that “church” has nothing to do with faith – since Jesus died and the veil was torn…i believe there is nothing between me and God and I need no church in order to be saved – I believe no rituals are necessary – both the Catholics, Mormons, Lutherans, and Protestant churches are full of rituals.

    • mtsweat says:

      Very fair analysis. I like that you lumped us all as susceptible to rituals, although it is very interesting to take the time to understand why some of the liturgical practices are so important to many. I think we can misunderstand others by simply not knowing why some do what they do. Blessings… many of them!

      • Planting Potatoes says:

        You are right….it is hard to judge rituals of other’s without knowing why they do it…blessings to you and thanks for writing!

    • TikkTok says:

      Mormons do NOT have the same Jesus. Same name; TOTALLY different individual. TOTALLY different end game, too…….

      • Planting Potatoes says:

        you’re correct…one reason I finally left the mormon church

        • TikkTok says:

          Welcome! I pray that others see the light you saw and act!

          Our former neighbors for years are Mormon. Our girls were best friends (still talk daily even though we’re thousands of miles away) and my heart breaks for those girls. I had to educate myself (and my girls) to be able to address some things that were said/asked. I can only hope some small seeds were planted. *sigh*. It makes my heart hurt.

          • Planting Potatoes says:

            Yes, I can relate….my family really doesn’t want anything to do with me because I left the church…I pray every day – it makes my heart too…this is the main reason I have a problem with any church that suggests to me that I need them in order to go to heaven.

          • TikkTok says:

            Good luck, PP. I, personally, get really annoyed with that whole line of judgement. When her mother died a few years ago, my mil’s family told her (my mil) that she was going to hell because she was not going to church.

            Imo, we aren’t going to gain/save anything/anyone for Christ if we condemn and push them away first…….

          • Planting Potatoes says:

            so true TT! The judgement these man made churches bring to the world are not God’s judgement and he never gave any of us the power to judge each other anyway….when we judge each other…we drive wedges between us – and God meant for us all to be saved

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