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The following are various emails I received in 2000 on Catholicism. The the emailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.
>I was raised a Roman Catholic and still attend Catholic Church on Sundays. I am very conflicted and sometimes disturbed by many of the attitudes and homelitic teachings I am subjected to in "the Church". One of these is the "closed" Communion table, which does not allow non-Catholics to participate.<
That would disturb me as well. But note, there is some Protestant churches that have closed communions, but these tend to be ones that are legalistic as well. However, I have never been to a Protestant church with such a practice.
> and another distinguishes certain levels of sinfulness as prohibitions from taking communion.<
Sin is sin. All and any sin separates us from God. That is why we need forgiveness. That the Bible is clear on. But there is some Biblical basis for dividing sins into "venial" and "mortal" sins (1John 5:16f).
>Of course most of these sins are sexual in nature. None having anything to do with what makes one a loving human being.<
Sexual sin is sin. However, you are correct that churches, both Catholic and Protestant, tend to focus on sexual sins while ignoring other ones, like anger and greed. But these need to be addressed as well.
> I am concerned about the 'purging' path - the path which claims salvation by 'not doing' certain things - especially sexual acts.<
Salvation is definitely not the result of "not doing certain things" nor is it the result of doing anything. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. And this is where there is a big difference between the Catholic Church and Protestant churches.
The Catholic Church teaches salvation is by faith, plus baptism, plus keeping the Ten commandments, plus keeping the sacraments. However, Protestant churches, following the Bible, teach that salvation is by faith plus nothing. I would suggest you check the pages listed on the following page of my site: Forgiveness and Salvation.
>Holiness has to be something more than 'not sinning'.<
Yes it is. It mainly concerns ones relationship with God. A proper relationship with Him will lead to the avoiding of sin and the doing of good works, but the focus needs to be on the inner heart change a relationship with Him brings about.
> In fact I don't believe we are capable of 'not sinning' on our own powers. I thought that was why Salvation was required.
Very true. That is why one can never "earn" that salvation by avoiding sin or doing good works. We will always sin to some degree, and we could never do enough to satisfy God's righteous demands against us for our sins. But forgiveness can be found through the blood of Christ.
Once we have been forgiven, and begin to develop our relationship with Christ, we will gradually begin to live more righteous lives as a result of that salvation and relationship. But we will always be subject to sin, just enough to always remind us how much we need salvation by grace.
I like the general tone of your DTL page. You have many good articles about a wide range of subjects. Your page helped me settle on NKJV.
Just now I read your piece on the Roman Catholic church. You know that most major Protestant leaders considered the Roman papacy the Antichrist of Bible prophecy. Today many have downplayed or discarded that view entirely. My question to you is has Rome fundamentally changed to where we can discard that Antichrist view? Or else do things like canonizing Pope Pius IX (papal infallibility) or drives to dogmatize the equality of Mary with Christ indicate something still at work that Christians need to vigorously oppose ?
I don't think it helps matters to be saying the Pope is the antichrist. This simply prevents having a dialog with Catholics. Yes, there are still problems with Catholicism that need to be discussed. How "vigorous" one would be in doing so is debatable. Suffice it to say, the problems cannot be overlooked or brushed aside as many try to do. But using offensive language doesn't help matters either. Something in-between I think is more appropriate.
>Subject: 20k, 25k, 30k, 35k + Denominations
I am so happy to read that you are doing so well. Praise be to God! I have a question or two.
I am a former Catholic, and have read many an apologetic page where the RCC states the tired argument that there are 20,000+ and climbing Protestant denominations—so out the window goes "unity" and sola scriptura as we are all interpreting different.
I never know quite what to say to this. Also, I have no idea where they are getting these statistics. I have tried to look online for a resource, to no avail.
How do you reconcile this argument and where can we find real statistics to evaluate them truthfully.
I mean, just because a denomination has a different name does not a division make....right?
God Bless and thank you!
Let's see, there are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Conservative Baptist Association, the General Baptist Conference, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, and a myriad of other "Baptist" groups, along with numerous independent Baptist churches. All of these could be counted as separate "denominations" -- never mind that their basic beliefs are basically the same. The same situation would exist for Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals, and others.
My point is, each of these "major" viewpoints has numerous separate organizations, but by and large their beliefs are the same. And more importantly, ALL of these groups would agree on the "essentials of the faith" as I discuss on my site. So there is unity, but it is an unity of doctrine, not of organization. And that is what the Bible says, were are to be of "one mind" not "one organization."
As for different Biblical interpretations, yes that is true. Different groups do interpret different passages differently. But again, on passages dealing with the essentials of the faith, there is agreement. And more to the point, when there is a disagreement, does that mean we should look to an "infallible" old man in a white costume for guidance? I don't see that in the Scriptures. What I do see is that each person should study the Bible for themselves and decide for themselves what the Scriptures teach, not let an "organization" tell them what to believe.
I hope that helps.
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