Pointers for Bible Thumpers (Like Me) in Having Honest, Loving Relationships With Catholic Churchfolk

Bible Hero Moses

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We as Jesus freaks have the right to any conviction that is based on what the bible says.  We can have the audacity to claim them to be truthful as well.  Maybe the biggest point of contention we can have with Catholics is that the teaching office of the church cannot even be given equal status with the scriptures.[1]  We need to proclaim gently and lovingly that we do esteem the Word of God above everything and hold it as our final authority on all matters- even church organization and religious expression.  Catholics may rightly view us as a loose bunch of anti-authoritarians, and we need to prove that we believe in the biblical organization of the church found in 1 Timothy 3, and as well believe in the universal church that transcends all denominations.  May I be so bold to say to anti-Catholic Christians that this universal church includes people within the Catholic Church?  There are many practicing Catholics that love the Lord, and plenty that don’t.  There are many practicing evangelicals that love the Lord, and plenty that don’t know Him at all.  We need to be realistic and level the playing field here!  I still emphasize that the evangelical focus on the Word of God as sole authority can have greater potential in mobilizing people to follow it, but there are always exceptions to every rule.

There was a tragedy within the Protestant fold back in the 1920’s, during the modernist-fundamentalist split, the “soul gospel” became divorced from the “social gospel”, with the fundamentalists orienting themselves toward the former (soul winning, evangelism, preaching) while the more liberal, mainline denominations focused on the latter (social justice, activism, service).  As a legacy of this split, contemporary evangelicalism has struggled to rejoin these two integral aspects of the gospel.[2]  We need to live a fully balanced Christian life and reverse the curse so to speak.  This will prove to our Catholic friends that we don’t sit around and accuse them of believing in “salvation by works” when we live only by faith and have no works!  Granted, it must be said that one not need undergo formal baptism, regular confession and membership of the Catholic church to be saved, but rather one needs only to confess Christ with His mouth and believe in his heart that He is the Son of God to be truly saved.

Cool is ultimately a lonely world because it makes people fear you.  It signifies elitism, which makes uncool people really uncomfortable.[3]  We need to throw out this addiction to being cool that we have within the evangelical church.  It’s corny, consumerist and unbecoming.  It may be the biggest turn off to the world and to other churches that we project.  We need to be ourselves and allow our transparent quirkiness out with our Catholic friends, and then they’ll see we are genuine normal people just like them.

In a religious framework, if you feel you are living up to your chosen religious standards, then you feel superior and disdainful toward those who are not following in the true path.  This is true whether your religion is of a more liberal variety (in which case you will feel superior to bigots and narrow-minded people) or of a more conservative variety (in which case you will feel superior to the less moral and devout).  If you are not living up to your chosen standards, then you will be filled with a loathing toward yourself.  You will feel far more guilt than if you had stayed away from God and religion altogether.[4]  We need to express the freedom we have from sin and the joy that this brings us to our Catholic friends.  We need to express this to the world.  Knowing Christ certainly isn’t about becoming a religious elitist.  It is about having the peace, love and joy of the Holy Spirit ignited in our hearts.  We need to understand that God has us in a process, on a journey towards eternity.  All of us who call ourselves followers of Christ are invited to join in this process of being made like Christ called sanctification.  Instead of beating ourselves up into religious obedience, we need to continually, gratefully confess our sins to a great God and Lord who loves us and wishes all the best for us.  May we all continually draw closer to Him and Him only.

[1] Challenging Catholics, 21

[2] McCracken, Brett  Hipster Christianity  (Baker 2010), 150

[3] Ibid., 194

[4] Keller, Timothy.  The Reason For God  (Penguin 2008), 186-187


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