As the evangelical world in America seems rather excited about the Pope’s visit, I can’t help but remember how I felt when I discovered the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document (ECT).
In 1995 the unthinkable happened. Well known evangelical pastors signed a document in which they joined themselves with Catholic priests and Philosophers, in an ecumenical fashion in order to promote the agreements over the disagreements that have plagued Protestants and Catholics for centuries dating back to the greats: Calvin, Luther, Zwingli and Knox. They agreed to no longer “proselytize” each other, agreeing that Catholics are indeed brothers, and sisters in Christ.
This article was successful in its endeavor. The vast majority of Christians in America do not evangelize Catholics. Someone like me who has shed many tears over the deception of the Roman Catholic Church is seen as hateful. I totally understand the desire to believe people are saved. I also desperately want Roman Catholics to go to heaven, but we can’t let our desire for people to be saved or our desire to please men, lead us to cheer them on as they run towards hell. We must love them.
When I first found out about the ECT, I was shocked. I was fresh off the boat and never in a million years did I imagine such confusion over what seemed to be such a clear issue to me and any Italian believer. Most evangelical churches in Italy, many of which we would never step foot into, recognize this truth.
I wondered why there was such confusion in America, and I concluded that it must come down to the Easy-Belivism mentality. In America people believe that all you have to say is, “Jesus come into my heart”, and you are saved, and it doesn’t matter what you actually believe. The devil loves to comes as an angel of light. He loves to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and as Spurgeon said, he has created a masterpiece with the Roman Catholic Church. Here are some of the reasons protestants and Roman Catholics will never agree (based on the RCC’s teaching) and why ultimately a Born again Christian who attends a Roman Catholic Church must come out and join God’s true Church.
It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the magisterum of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in their own way, under the action of the Holy Spirit, they all contribute affectively to the salvation of souls. – Catechism of the Catholic Church 95
Picture a company with three owners. They walk into a room they all have the same power. That’s what this is like in the RCC.
And although Scripture should trump any false interpretation in the RCC, the Pope and his cardinals, as well as tradition have undermined Scripture for centuries. God has not given man the right to alter His word, The Holy Spirit is in charge of illuminating the mind of His children and cause them to understand the truth. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us clearly that scripture is all we need to live a life that glorifies our Creator.
The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude – C of the C C 1257
Baptism…makes the neophyte “a new creature” an adopted son of God – C of the C C 1265
By baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin – C of the C C 1263
The only way to heaven in the Roman Catholic Church is through Baptism. Baptism cannot save anyone, especially a newborn. A baby cannot have faith. A baby cannot confess Jesus as Lord, he cannot believe the resurrection. Instead each human being at some point in their life must repent of their sin and trust in Jesus as savior and Lord (Romans 10:9).
I wrote about this last week. In summary a system that is works-based will always minimize sin. Sin will be easily overcome and in Roman Catholicism it is overcome through confession.
Salvation is found in the Roman Catholic Church alone
OUTSIDE THE CHURCH THERE IS NO SALVATION, – …it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: – Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation. C of the C C 846
It is in the Church that the fullness of the means of salvation has been deposited. C of the C C 824
This language holds people captive and forces people to trust in an institution rather than a savior. It brings fear in the hearts of those who question its veracity, and ultimately it causes a barrier between attenders and the hearing of the true saving gospel.
As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which our Pasch has been sacrificed is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out. C of the C C 1364
In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. C of the C C 1367
The Bible Says that Christ Died Once and For all (1 Peter 3:18). He does not need to continue dying like the animals in the Old Testament sacrificial system. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The only reason he would need to continue dying would be if we needed our sins re-forgiven each week, or if we were trying to earn our salvation. In the Roman Catholic Church Jesus Christ is still on the cross and every week the Father crushes Him over and over again.
The first commandment is also concerned with the sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption. C of the C C 2091
Presumption… hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit C of the C C 2092
Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification C of the C C 2010
Ultimately, as we see so clearly written by their own fingers, they believe that you must merit God’s forgiveness. It is not a free gift (Eph. 2:8-9). It is something that you must earn, and anyone who says they are on their way to heaven without having earned it over the course of many years, is presumptuous and disillusioned.
The Bible says in 1 John 5:13, “I have written these things so that you may know that you have eternal life”. It’s not something we must earn but it is a free gift. And we can have confidence in this life that we will be with Him the moment we die.
Our heart goes out to people stuck in this false system. Our desire is not to condemn but to bring the truth to these people. Sometimes you have to let people know they are lost before showing them how they can be found. If you wish to learn more about how to evangelize Roman Catholics here are 10 books I have benefited from to help you do just that.
Thanks for sharing this piece. I found it interesting and thought provoking. It didn’t even touch on some of the things that made me say no to Catholicism, like the exaltation of Mary and prayers to saints, and even the papacy. It did enlighten me on their other teachings, which I wasn’t all that familiar with.
Here’s my issue though. I don’t, personally, feel a burden to evangelize to people who have already learnt about the gospel and Christ through the Bible, and settled on a false truth. As hard as it is for me to put up with the differing interpretations and practices which send people running from Christ, I would much rather keep speaking the truth about the gospel to the world and be a light to all, than try to get people (who probably feel they know much more than I do about the scriptures) to change their perspectives.
However, I think it’s important for people to know that there’s a distinction and we are not all right! It took me a while before I could reject certain versions of Christianity as false, such as Catholicism, Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, I don’t see them in the same light as I see unbelievers (who have never heard or received the gospel) or atheists. I would disagree with them, but the idea of going to them to tell them about Jesus seems like a futile exercise. I think God will always lead the sincere out, because any who truly believes in Jesus and abides in Christ cannot live in darkness. Perfect love casts out fear!
But I do understand that for some people (like you, perhaps), this type of Ministry if their focus. It definitely has its place in exposing lies and helping people to choose true Christianity. However, where does it end? I mean, where are the boundaries? Even among Protestants, beliefs and practices are so varied and some Protestant churches seek to save other Protestants too, by claiming that they’re correct and the others are misguided.
Maybe we will always live in the tension of these differences. Jesus said “if they are not against us, they are for us” at one point, then “anyone who doesn’t gather with me scatters”.
If “US” is the body of those who believe in Jesus, then maybe Jesus is saying those in other fellowships are not our enemies. But what is important is for each one of us to gather with Christ… otherwise we will be scattered (as we are). Our common ground is Christ. If we hold to Him, we can trust Him to gather us together. I truly believe the Body of Christ is invisible and many individuals and churches will be shocked to see branded heretics in the Kingdom on Heaven and exalted saints cast out.
As much as we disagree, let us exalt Christ… the devil would like to distract us from this vocation.
Christian love, Ufuoma.
God WILL save his elect people no matter where they currently are. I do not personally challenge the faith of any of my Catholic friends, however I believe Catholicism holds to a gospel of faith plus works, which is a false gospel. At the same, there is a false gospel that pervades much of Protestant evangelicalism that tries to ‘attract’ people to Jesus with the message that Christ died for ‘our best lives now’ that is more insidious than Roman Catholicism, that at least teaches that Christ died for our sins. the point of the article is that those who hold to salvation by faith alone should not partner with those who hold to faith plus works salvation. One is a false gospel. For those who hold to a true gospel to partner with those who profess Christianity but hold to a false gospel is the ultimate meaning of being unequally yoked. I also believe that I should pray for opportunities to present the true Christ to those in my life who hold to a false gospel and/or a false religion. The gospel message i have is for all of the lost regardless whether they think they are saved or are just happy pagans.
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I guess I need to pray for and seize more of such opportunities myself. I think I’m more of a teacher than an evangelist in that respect.
I appreciate the purpose and message of the article. I need more boldness to reach out to those who put their faith in a false gospel.
That’s a good prayer and one I will join you in.
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Great article thank you!
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