Roman Catholicism

The Flexibility of Rome

A few years ago, I stopped by a friend’s church in Washington, D.C. to walk to lunch with him. He had just finished a gut-wrenching meeting where a recent church member explained he had converted to Roman Catholicism without informing the pastors of the church.

The church member’s main justification for the conversion was the intellectual dearth among Protestants and particularly Baptists. And he held this out as the force that drove him to cross the Tiber.

My friend valiantly attempted to share the gospel with the young man from God’s Word and to pull him back to the true faith. But the deed was done, and the excuse was that Baptists lack intellectual and academic validity. And this excuse was given to a pastor with a doctorate in church history from Cambridge.

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Clarifying Terms in Catholic Evangelism (Part 2)

Adapted from VOICE, July/Aug 2015. Used with permission. Read Part 1.

Born Again

If you asked a Roman Catholic per­son if he is “born again,” he might reply, “Yes of course.” But he may mean “I was born again when baptized as an infant.” Support for this as the official Roman Catholic view comes from The Catechism.

The seven sacraments of the Church Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist [The Mass], Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony are “all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Paragraph 1114). “The ordained priest­hood [ordained by the Roman Catholic Church] guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church” (Paragraph 1120). The sacraments are necessary for salvation (Paragraph 1129). They act ex opere operato—literally, “by the very fact of the actions being performed” (Paragraph 1128). This means independent of any faith on the part of the recipient. And they are efficacious because in them Christ Himself is at work: it is He who baptizes (Paragraph 1128). Furthermore,

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Clarifying Terms in Catholic Evangelism (Part 1)

Adapted from VOICE, July/Aug 2015. Used with permission.

During recent years I have been able to present a seminar in several churches aimed at helping them more effective­ly and lovingly evangelize lost Roman Catholic people. When I receive feedback from the partici­pants, one of the most helpful parts of the seminar seems to be the comparison of terms that are differently understood by most Roman Catholic and evangelicals.

Often evangelicals will conclude that a particular Roman Catholic person is saved because of the use of certain terms. They may say, “Yes I was born again,” or “Yes, I have received Christ,” or “Yes, I believe I am going to heaven based on faith.” However, in many cases their Catholic friend actually means something different than our Bible-based understanding.

The differences in meaning are real and determinative when one attempts to commu­nicate the biblical grace gospel. God gave us the Holy Scriptures as a written revelation of “words,” words with intended meaning, and meaning with intention of being understood.

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"A Protestantism which fails to acknowledge those historical roots and indeed to teach them to its young people leaves itself vulnerable to Canterbury and Rome"

"[I]t is critical that in educating the rising generation within the Church, there is proper acknowledgment of the role of history in the formation of Christianity and a proper appreciation for the richness of the Christian heritage."

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