Religion at its best

August 3, 2007 at 11:49 am | Posted in Christianity | 5 Comments
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I’ve taken the liberty to copy an article from WorldNetDaily. The reason that I copied it is so that the context of the article can be seen as I write my response. The bold and narrow assertion made by Pope Benedict XVI recently is not only offensive, it goes against the very thing that it proposes to uphold. This discussion could go on for pages, so I will try to stay to the issue at hand. I will keep short the background information in hopes that readers will study what is said on their own.

Pope Benedict XVI has ignited controversy across the world by approving a document saying non-Catholic Christian communities are either defective or not true churches, and the Roman Catholic Church provides the only true path to salvation.

The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is headed by pope Benedict XVI. It stands on some beliefs that are hard to support with scripture. The RCC (but not necessarily all of it’s constituents) believes that they are the only church that Christ started. They believe this because they say that the pope is a successor of Peter, and that Peter was the first pope. They base this on Matthew 16:18. Jesus says that He will build His church on the rock (petra). The rock that Jesus is talking about is the confession that Peter (petros) makes in verse 16 (that Jesus is the Son of God). They also believe that the pope is infallible. The definition of infallible is without error. Many Roman Catholics (RCs) will try to say that they don’t believe that the pope is unable to commit error, only that he is unable to commit error when he is acting in the office of the papacy. This means that when the pope takes an action like he has, to call any other church but the RCC “defective”, or “not a true church”; he is considered to be infallible.

The problem with all of this is the fact that the pope is human and still very much capable of error, even when he acts in the office of pope.  On to the statements made. Pope Benedict says that non-Catholic Christian communities are defective or not true churches. To say this implies a lot. First, it means that all of the people that have accepted Christ outside the RCC are not truly saved, but are deceived and still going to hell. Let’s look at this logically. If what the pope says is true, that the RCC provides the only path to salvation, then non-RCs are not on the path of salvation. This means that non-RCs are not saved, which in turn means that non-RCs are going to hell(purgatory isn’t an option because we don’t believe in it). This is a very dangerous place to tread for any man regardless of position. I would say with 100% certainty that the pope cannot see the condition of my soul. I would be just as bold to say that he cannot see the condition of the hundreds of thousands of other souls that he has just condemned to hell. Matthew 7:1 is a well known scripture that is often severely taken out of context. It says, “Do not judge and you will not be judged”.

The contextual scriptures say that we will be judged with the same measure we mete and that we should take care of the log in our own eye before we worry about the speck in our brother’s eye. This is usually used by Christians and non-Christians alike who wish to hang onto sin that has been exposed. Instead of admitting it and moving toward repentance and reconciliation, they say, “Don’t judge me”, and continue in their sin. In this context, however, it is very true. No one but God Himself knows the state of our soul, and only He will be able to make an accurate judgment of our eternal destination. To say that you can, without fail, determine where thousands of people will spend eternity is to place yourself on the throne of God. I will just say that that is not a position I want to be in…”

Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” said the document, reasserting the primacy of Catholicism.

Christ did establish one church, but it isn’t the RCC (or the hundreds of other denominations that make the same claim). The church that Christ established was/is the universal body of believers in Him. The word church used in Matthew 16:18 is the Greek word ekklesia which simply means a congregation or gathering of people. It is those who are “called out” from the world. To say that the primacy of the RCC has been reasserted, is a statement that actually carries value only to those who believe it ever had any primacy to begin with.

It said other Christian communities such as Protestants “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense” since they don’t have what’s known as apostolic succession – that is, the ability to trace their bishops back to the original 12 apostles of Jesus.

As I stated above, to say that other Christian communities cannot be called churches, is to see the scriptural definition of the original Greek word completely ignored by someone who is supposedly infallible. The proper sense of the word “church” is that of a congregation. In that sense, I don’t recall seeing too many churches that don’t fit that definition. To say that you have to be able to trace your bishops back to the original 12 Apostles is to apply restrictions on the body of Christ that neither the scriptures nor the Greek grammatical structure bear out.

The document said the Orthodox church suffered from a “wound” because it did not recognize the primacy of the pope, adding the wound was “still more profound” among Protestant denominations.

The wound suffered was that there is no harmony between different denominations due to minor differences of doctrine (most of the time). Nowhere in scripture does it say that we are to recognize the pope as the leader of the body of Christ, or as His main representative on the earth. It does say, however, that Christ is the head of the body, and that we are all His representatives.

It was “difficult to see how the title of ‘Church’ could possibly be attributed to them,” said the statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, purporting Roman Catholicism was “the one true Church of Christ.”

This only sounds like arrogance coming from a church that is steeped in it’s own tradition.

“These separated churches and communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation,” the document read. “In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.”

This is double talk and a complete contradiction of what was said above. If non-RCs are not on the path of salvation, then how can they not be deprived of the “significance nor importance” of it? The pope says that other churches suffer from defects. Is the RCC the spotless bride that Christ is returning for? Why is salvation described as a mystery? It seems pretty simple to me. Man messed up and separated himself from God through sin. He could not (and still can’t) restore that relationship on his own. To remedy this, God came down in flesh, lived a sinless life, died as a substitute for those who believe in Him, and restored the relationship with God. Is that truly that difficult?

It is awfully nice of the pope to give the Holy Spirit the credit of using us lowly non-RCs as “defective” instruments of salvation. But to say that the value of salvation is “derived from the grace and truth that has been entrusted to the RCC”, is outrageous. The grace of God is available to all men to lead them to salvation through faith in Christ. This was how it worked before the RCC rose up, and this is how it will always work. For the RCC to take the glory for the work that God did through believers before it was even established is shady to say the least.

The document, formulated as five questions and answers, repeated sections of a 2000 text the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, “Dominus Iesus,” which angered Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches and did not have the “means of salvation.”

Here again, the pope says that non-RC churches lack the “means of salvation”. What type of salvation are we talking about here? If it is salvation by works, then we should all lack that. If it is true salvation, then how can we lack the free gift that God has given the entire world through His Son? The bible says in Acts 4:12 that there is “no other name under heaven by which men might be saved but the name of Jesus”. If the name of Jesus is how we are saved, and it is through belief in Him and confession of Him as Lord that we are saved (Romans 10:9-10), then who is the pope to say that non-RC churches lack this?

The Vatican’s statement, signed by American Cardinal William Levada, was approved by Benedict June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in the Catholic faith.

Protestant leaders wasted no time attacking the statement.

 “It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity,” said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a group of 75 million Protestants in more than 100 countries. “It makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the reformed family and other families of the church.”  

Today’s edition of the London Times gave the story prominence with a headline reading: “If it isn’t Roman Catholic then it’s not a proper Church, pope tells Christians.”

Its online edition also features a messageboard where readers from all over the world are reacting to the pronouncement, including:

  • The pope is being honest in saying what all right thinking Catholics believe. (Brian O Cinneide, Durban, South Africa) I

In light of scripture, can this truly be called “right thinking”?

  • The Roman Catholic Church IS the true Church, all others are “off shoots,” “break away” or denominations. (Connie, Billings, Montana)
  • I guess the crux of it is that if you don’t accept the pope as your leader, then the church you are in is illegitimate. This is most offensive and insincere considering the Roman Catholic Church keeps telling us that it wants to reach out to other Christian and non-Christian faiths. I would say that the Catholic Church is “not proper” for issuing this provocative article not the Christian churches. (Niki Saliba, Melbourne, Australia)
  • I am embarrassed to be Catholic. I feel as if a major part of my ongoing and increasingly difficult decision to remain in the Church has been excised. The pope is going to take the Church back to a time when it was populated by only a hard-core, self-congratulatory few. I guess that will mean fewer parishes to keep open and more donations per capita. (Janet, Ohio)
  • Just shows why it is almost impossible to remain a practicing Catholic. The medium is more important than the message. Do you really think Christ would think it was more important to belong to one brand of Christianity than to live by his teachings? (Maria, Sydney, Australia)
  • The early Christians set a bad example for everyone. They prayed in other tongues, engaged in prophesy, laid hands on the sick, cast out demons and met in services in the catacombs. They stuck together even until death and crucifixion. They acted like they were in love with God as a result of a supernatural experience through the Holy Spirit as a result of Christ’s death of redemption. Those improper Christians never did get it right with their early Church practices! (Mark, Houston, Texas)

In John 13:34-35, Jesus tells us to love one another because that is how the world will know that we are His disciples. Colossians 3:14 says that love is the perfect bond of unity. Is this type of divisive speech and attitude toward other believers founded in the love of Christ? Below is posted 1 Corinthians 13:1-8. It is the chapter that describes love. I believe that it is necessary to understand the love being talked about here. It is the agape love. This type of love is the God kind of love. It is the sacrificial kind of love. 

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  

 Is the statement made by the pope the type of agape love that would sacrifice itself for others? Is this truly representative of our Lord and Savior. I would have to say definitely not. Sadly, the RCC isn’t the only one that is misrepresenting the true love of Christ. For many it is no longer about being a disciple of Christ, it is about an image, or about power, or about being associated with the name Jesus and not the character of Jesus. It is truly heartbreaking that the one group of people that should be changing the world have the hardest time changing themselves because they try to do it under their own power. Jesus said that He was coming back for a spotless bride. At this point in time the bride of Christ hardly looks spotless…

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  1. Hi,

    Actually, in the original Aramaic, Christ would have said “you are Kepha and upon this kepha I will build my church”. It was only when the Gospels were written in Greek that the words Petros and petra were used – and the writers certainly didn’t intend to make a distinction, because there was none in the original Aramaic. The only reason the words differ is that you can’t call Peter “Petra” because the “a” on the end means it’s a female word. So they had to use “Petros”. In first century Koine Greek petros and petra were synonyms anyway.

    “the pope is human and still very much capable of error”: the authors of the Gospels were human, do you suppose they were capable of error? Oh, ye of little faith, to think that God is less capable of protecting his church from error in the 20th century than he was in the first! Miracles still happen, and God still takes an interest in His creation!

    You’re either mistaken or lying when you say that the Vatican statement implies that non-Catholics are going to Hell.

    I suggest that you read the actual document, rather than paying attention to what the media says: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html

  2. I will admit that I’m not a Greek or Aramaic scholar, but reading the context of the scripture indicates something other than the RCC position. If Jesus meant that He would build His church on Peter, why didn’t He just say you? “You are Peter, and on you I will build my church”

    The authors of the gospels were capable of error. And so is the pope. To say that I have little faith because I think the pope is capable of error is really unfair. If you read the gospels, you can see them filled with the errors made by those following Christ. As a matter of fact, it was right after the statement about Peter and the rock that Jesus rebuked Peter and called him Satan for trying to hinder God’s plan. Just because I said that the pope is capable of error in no way means that I think that God is not capable of protecting the church or His Word. Where do you get that from? I fully agree that God is capable of doing whatever is necessary to see His plan fulfilled, even if that means using the RCC. But that doesn’t make the RCC the ‘true Church’ any more than it made the Pharisees the true Jewish church.

    God prophesied through Caiaphas about the truth of Christ, but that didn’t make him incapable of error…If I have little faith, it is in the guidance and direction of the RCC and the arrogant position they take as the true “Church” to the exclusion of non-RCs.

    I never denied that miracles still happen. I have been blessed to be a part of some. And I fully agree that it would be a miracle if the pope were incapable of error, but he’s not. And my saying that he can err in no way denies the truth of miracles or that God takes interest in His creation.

    I have read the document you linked saw nothing that denied the claim made. The document says that those who are not part of the RCC do not have the fullness of truth. It says that they cannot be called “Churches” in the proper sense. It says that the full identity of the “Church of Christ” is in the RCC. If these are all true, then non-RCs do not have the fullness of truth, they are not churches in the proper sense, and they are not part of the “Church of Christ”. This would imply that they are going to hell. Futhermore, reading Dominus Iesus, we find that the RCC believes that there is a “ray of truth” in all religions, and that this truth helps them to nurture a relationship with God. But then the document says that Jesus is the way.

    Which “truth” in the Hindu religion is the ray of truth that allows people to nurture their relationship with God? The one about the 300+ gods(little “g”) that they have? The one about Brahma and nirvana? What about the Islamic faith? Is it the “truth” that denies Jesus as the Son of God? Or maybe it’s the one about Jews and Christians being infidels. What about Buddism? They deny the existence of God. Where is the truth in their belief that allows them to nuture a relationship with something they deny exists?

    The documents that I’ve read from the RCC are filled with a lot of doubletalk and flowery words to hide the doctrine from casual followers. When you read them closer, you find that they support everything, and therefore support nothing at all. It is sad to say the least.

    The scripture says that salvation is of the Jews. Jesus was a Jew. The RCC doesn’t support any of the Jewish feasts or traditions. It will say that these have been done away with. Okay. Should they have been replaced with the traditions of the RCC, when there is no need for them?

    The pope’s statements do nothing to encourage the unity of the body of Christ. I definitely have a hard time wanting to fellowship with someone who tells me in one instance that they desire unity and in the next breath tells me that I’m defective and lack the fullness of the truth.

  3. “If Jesus meant that He would build His church on Peter, why didn’t He just say you? “You are Peter, and on you I will build my church””

    He did, just through a play on words. It was a play on words in your interpretation, too! That doesn’t make it illegitimate.

    The Catholic Church isn’t being arrogant in stating that it is the true church. It is simply giving its interpretation of historical fact. To do otherwise would be dishonest.

    Again, non-Catholics aren’t necessarily going to hell. Every Christian, by virtue of their baptism into Christ, is part of the true Church. The fullest expression of that Church is the Catholic Church, but even non-Catholics are able to be saved by virtue of what elements of the Church they partake in.

    As far as non-Christians go, there is a ray of truth in all religions, but this doesn’t mean they’re all equal. Islam, for instance, teaches that there is one God. And it’s good that muslims believe in that one truth, despite everything else they believe. Hindus try to please their gods. They’re not true gods, of course, but the Catholic Church teaches that if anyone hasn’t heard of Christianity through no fault of their own, and tries their best to live a good life according to the conscience God gave them, whatever religion they’re in, they still have a chance to get to Heaven.

    Of course, it would be better if they were Christians, but God won’t necessarily abandon people who don’t know any better because, say, they were living on Easter Island in A.D. 762 and didn’t have a chance to hear of Christ.

    The Church isn’t trying to put anyone down by saying who is or isn’t a true church by their definition. They’re trying to clarify what they believe so everyone can dialogue openly and honestly.

    All Christians would say that to be a true church, you have to baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Are we being unfair to those who don’t? Catholics simply apply a stricter definition, that Churches have to share the same concept of Communion.

  4. I’m sorry, but I disagree. Play on words or not, what makes something legitimate or illegitimate is the context of the passage. The context of the passage is who Jesus is. It is about who others say He is and then who the disciples say He is. In that context, how can you get that Christ is going to build His church on Peter? Throughout scripture, Jesus is not only the head of the body, He is the foundation. If anyone builds on another foundation, they are out of line with scripture(1 Cor. 3). Jesus is referred to many times as the Rock, both in the OT and NT. There is nothing in scripture that supports the view of Peter as the head of the “true Church”.

    The RCC saying it is the “true Church” that has the “fullness of grace and truth” doesn’t sound the least bit arrogant to you? The RCCs interpretation is what I have a problem with. As I’ve already said, there is nothing that denotes what the RCC is as the “true Church”. The “historical fact” is missing. To say anything else is to be dishonest.

    First you said that I was “mistaken or lying” to believe that the Vatican says that non-RCs are going to hell. Now you say that we might not be going to hell. Which is it? You say that all Christians are part of the true church through baptism in Christ. But you equivocate the meaning of true church to mean the RCC. That’s not the meaning given in scripture. The church (scripturally) is the body of believers. For me to be a part of this body, I have to believe in Christ. None of that has to come through the RCC. I didn’t believe because of the RCC. I believed because of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life. Was that through the RCC too? I am part of the true church because of my belief in and acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for my sins, not my baptism.

    The fullest expression of the church is the RCC? How so? Looking at scripture, the fullest expression of the church is found in Christ. To say that the RCC is the fullest expression is to do what I was accused of doing in an earlier comment. You are saying that God is unable to do anything without the RCC. You are saying that it is because of the RCC that any other church has the truth. You are saying that it is because of the RCC that anyone else has the ability to be saved at all, and all of this goes against scripture. Paul preached the gospel for 3 years before he ever met with Peter. Were those who heard his message saved? According to scripture they were. Scripture says that to be saved I need to confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead and I’ll be saved (Romans 10:9-10). None of this came from the RCC.

    There may be some truth in all religions, but that will not necessarily save the people who believe that truth. You say that Muslims have the “ray of truth” that there is one God. That’s true. There is only one God. But that will not save Muslims. The fact that there is one God is only good if that one God is the God of the Bible, and that knowledge leads Muslims to Jesus. Believing there is one God, as a truth by itself, will do nothing to pacify the wrath of God as a punishment for sin. You say it’s good that Muslims believe in one truth, “despite everything else they believe”. But it’s “everything else they believe” that will lead them straight to hell! They deny the deity of Christ! Will God look at Muslims and say, “Well, I know that you denied the fact that Jesus is my Son and that He died for your sins. And, I know that He said that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that noone comes to Me through Him; but since you at least believed in the fact that there is one God, even though your representation of Me was wrong, welcome to heaven!” I highly doubt it. Acts 4:12 says that there is no other name under heaven and earth by which men might be saved except Jesus. Scripture says that “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. Muslims don’t believe in Christ as the Son of God. So when you say that the RCC teaches that if someone hasn’t heard of Christ and they do their best to live a good life, it is a teaching that goes against scripture! The Bible makes it clear that without the blood of Jesus to cover your sins, you are going to be separated from God for eternity. It doesn’t matter how good you live your life. And Romans 1:20 says that even without someone hearing the gospel, they are without excuse because all of creation proclaims the power and godhead of the Lord. Can you provide scripture that says that it doesn’t matter what religion you believe, or whether or not you trust Jesus, as long as you try your best?

    You tell me that this is what the RCC teaches, even though John 14:6 is often quoted. Which is it? Is Jesus the way, the truth, and the life or is it whatever you want to believe as long as you try your best? And if the latter is truly what the RCC teaches, then which should I believe? The RCC and it’s doctrine or the God breathed scriptures?

    “The Church isn’t trying to put anyone down by saying who is or isn’t a true church by their definition. They’re trying to clarify what they believe so everyone can dialogue openly and honestly.”

    That’s just it. It is the RCC’s definition. It is the RCC’s interpretation. And whether it’s meant that way or not, it is troublesome to say the least. When someone tells me that I am not part of the church because I’m not RC, and that because of that, I’m “defective” and lack the “fullness of grace and truth”, I don’t like it very much. To clarify what you believe is one thing, but to make it a statement of fact, like the documents I’ve read have, is something completely different. You say that this is all done to show what RCs believe and so that there can be open and honest dialogue. Can this really happen? Can there be open and honest dialogue when the RCC believes that it is everything that Jesus had in mind for the church and looks down it’s nose at other Christians?

    “All Christians would say that to be a true church, you have to baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

    Would they? Most of the churches that I know of would say that to be a true church, you have to be a group of believers that accept the finished work of Christ on the cross by grace through faith in Him. I don’t think that most churches would agree with your statement.

    “Are we being unfair to those who don’t? Catholics simply apply a stricter definition, that Churches have to share the same concept of Communion.”

    But if this “application of a stricter definition” brings someone into a direct conflict with the Word of God, then how can that be ok? And why is it that the RCC’s definition is the one being applied? How can you say that your definition is correct? Can you line it up with scripture? Or does it come from tradition and the fact that men in power in the RCC have decided that this is the way it should be?

  5. “The context of the passage is who Jesus is. It is about who others say He is and then who the disciples say He is … There is nothing in scripture that supports the view of Peter as the head of the “true Church”.”

    There’s plenty in Scripture to support the idea that Peter was head of the true church. Whenever they were named, Peter heads (Matt. 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13); sometimes the apostles were just referred to as “Peter and those who were with him” (Luke 9:32). Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles (Matt. 18:21, Mark 8:29, Luke 12:41, John 6:68-69), and he figured in many of the most dramatic scenes (Matt. 14:28-32, Matt. 17:24-27, Mark 10:23-28). On Pentecost it was Peter who first preached to the crowds (Acts 2:14-40), and he worked the first healing in the Church age (Acts 3:6-7). It is Peter’s faith that will strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32) and Peter is given Christ’s flock to shepherd or govern (John 21:17). An angel was sent to announce the resurrection to Peter (Mark 16:7), and the risen Christ first appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34). He headed the meeting that elected Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13-26), and he received the first converts (Acts 2:41). He inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 8:18-23). He led the first council in Jerusalem (Acts 15), and announced the first dogmatic decision (Acts 15:7-11). It was to Peter that the revelation came that Gentiles were to be baptized and accepted as Christians (Acts 10:46-48).

    And why else would Christ give Simon an entirely new name, ROCK? Giving a new name meant that the status of the person was changed, as when Abram’s name was changed to Abraham (Gen.17:5), Jacob’s to Israel (Gen. 32:28), Eliakim’s to Joakim (2 Kgs. 23:34), or the names of the four Hebrew youths—Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan. 1:6-7).

    And Christ gave Peter a special commission: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19). Here Peter was singled out for the authority that provides for the forgiveness of sins and the making of disciplinary rules. Later the apostles as a whole would be given similar power [Matt.18:18], but here Peter received it in a special sense.

    Peter alone was promised something else also: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 16:19). In ancient times, keys were the hallmark of authority. A walled city might have one great gate; and that gate had one great lock, worked by one great key. To be given the key to the city—an honor that exists even today, though its import is lost—meant to be given free access to and authority over the city. The city to which Peter was given the keys was the heavenly city itself. This symbolism for authority is used elsewhere in the Bible (Is. 22:22, Rev. 1:18).

    That passage from Isaiah refers to the appointment of a Prime Minister or Chief Steward by a King. Isn’t that a pretty significant thing for Christ to refer to? Maybe suggesting that He was at that moment appointing His own Prime Minister to govern the Church?

    “The RCC saying it is the “true Church” that has the “fullness of grace and truth” doesn’t sound the least bit arrogant to you?”

    Actually, it’s paradoxically both a relief and an awe inspiring responsibility.

    “First you said that I was “mistaken or lying” to believe that the Vatican says that non-RCs are going to hell. Now you say that we might not be going to hell. Which is it?”

    Uh … both? You’re mistaken to believe that the Vatican says that non RCs are going to hell, because non-RCs might not be going to hell.

    “I am part of the true church because of my belief in and acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for my sins, not my baptism.”

    Actually, it’s BOTH. No one can enter heaven unless he has been born again of *water* and the Holy Spirit.

    “Looking at scripture, the fullest expression of the church is found in Christ.”

    Yes. Christ actually IS the church. The church is the body of Christ. As far as communities of believers go, the visible catholic church is the fullest expression of the true Church on earth.

    “You are saying that God is unable to do anything without the RCC.”

    Actually, it’s the opposite. The catholic church is unable to do anything without God. But God has chosen to act normatively through the catholic church.

    “You are saying that it is because of the RCC that any other church has the truth. You are saying that it is because of the RCC that anyone else has the ability to be saved at all, and all of this goes against scripture. Paul preached the gospel for 3 years before he ever met with Peter. Were those who heard his message saved? According to scripture they were. Scripture says that to be saved I need to confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead and I’ll be saved (Romans 10:9-10). None of this came from the RCC.”

    Yes, it is because of the catholic church that any church has the truth. If they have any elements of the truth at all, those elements are what they have in common with the catholic church.

    “Can you provide scripture that says that it doesn’t matter what religion you believe, or whether or not you trust Jesus, as long as you try your best?”

    “I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16).

    After his Resurrection, Jesus gave the threefold command to Peter: “Feed my lambs. . . . Tend my sheep. . . . Feed my sheep” (John 21:15–17). The word translated as “tend” (poimaine) means “to direct” or “to superintend”—in other words, “to govern.” So although there are sheep that are not of Christ’s fold, it is through the Church that they are able to receive his salvation.

    Of course if someone knowingly rejects Christ they have no chance of salvation. But if someone is ignorant and tries to do good they do have a chance.

    Of course Jesus is the only way anyone can be saved. But it doesn’t have to be through conscious knowledge of Him, if you are ignorant through no fault of your own.

    “When someone tells me that I am not part of the church because I’m not RC, and that because of that, I’m “defective” and lack the “fullness of grace and truth”, I don’t like it very much.”

    You wouldn’t like it if a doctor gave you a bad diagnosis. But truth and charity would compel him to do so.

    “Would they? Most of the churches that I know of would say that to be a true church, you have to be a group of believers that accept the finished work of Christ on the cross by grace through faith in Him. I don’t think that most churches would agree with your statement.”

    If your church doesn’t even baptise in the name of the Trinity, then I don’t know what I can say. That’s the most commonly held sacrament of Christianity, and if the churches you know don’t think it’s necessary, then they’re way outside the mainstream. I mean, if they don’t even think it’s necessary to follow Christ’s Great Commission to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, then they’re pretty much a bunch of lukewarm Laodiceans.

    “But if this “application of a stricter definition” brings someone into a direct conflict with the Word of God, then how can that be ok?”

    But it doesn’t. There’s no conflict with the Word of God in saying that Churches that lack a valid Eucharist or apostolic succession aren’t true churches.

    “And why is it that the RCC’s definition is the one being applied? How can you say that your definition is correct? Can you line it up with scripture? Or does it come from tradition and the fact that men in power in the RCC have decided that this is the way it should be?”

    First I’ll say that there’s nothing wrong with something coming from tradition, as long as it’s sacred tradition and not the tradition of men.

    As far as why the catholic definition is true, it’s simply that you can’t have a church without they Eucharist, that’s why we come together on the Lord’s Day. If a group doesn’t have that, they’re just a community, as the document says.


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