Why I’m Catholic
By Tom Quiner
What is the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism?
Who is your authority on interpreting the Bible?
For the record, I’ve been both. I was born and raised Protestant and converted to Catholicism half a lifetime ago. I respect both traditions, but believe the Catholic Church offers the fullness of the Truth.
My post yesterday titled “Christian Fundamentalists vs. Catholics” generated the responses I expected, and they were good ones.
One response proposes that once you are saved, you are always saved. The Quiner’s Diner reader quotes scripture, 1 Jn 5:11-13:
“These things I have written to you who believe in the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
On the other hand, another scripture, Hebrews 3:14, says something a little different:
“For we have become partakers of Christ, IF we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm UNTIL THE END.” [emphasis mine].
This suggests that we still have free will to reject Christ, after once accepting Him.
How do you square these two competing scripture passages? It makes me think of Billy Graham’s good friend and original preaching partner, Charles Templeton. He walked away from the faith, becoming an atheist. Is he saved, after spending the last half of his life denying Christ?
Another Quiner’s Diner reader weighed in with this view:
“There is one Body of Christ on earth. It is composed of ALL believers, whether Catholic, Orthodox, any of the numerous Protestant denominations, messianic Jews, or anyone not even affiliated with a religious body, who know Jesus. To claim that any one of these bodies has an exclusive option on the truth is to be sadly mistaken.” [Emphasis mine.]
But if there is no arbiter of Truth, there is no truth. Protestantism was built on protest. There is no central authority. As a result, there are 40,000 flavors of Protestantism, with wide-ranging dissent on wide-ranging theological questions.
Christians disagree on a wide range issues, such as authority, justification, sacramentalism, Mary, the saints, purgatory, intercessions, to name but a few.
Who is right?
Scripture sometimes seems to contradict itself. To understand the inerrant Truth found in the Bible, it is vital to have an infallible teaching authority led by the Holy Spirit.
That authority is only found in the Catholic Church.
That is why I am a Catholic.
Doesn’t Jesus say that if we truly believe in Him we will have eternal life? If we can lose our salvation that means we do not have eternal life, so did Jesus lie?
No, we have free choice on whether we accept the gift of salvation.
I admire your analysis from the perspective of authority.
That authority exists with the Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit which to me means Christians who recognize this have salvation no matter the earthly Church they participate in.
I do suggest you look a little closer at history; specifically that before the Bible and before the Great Scism in the original Church.
Good insight on this can be found in Peter Gillquist’s book ” Becoming Orthodox”.
The Catechism and Catholic theologians state that we can find varying degrees of Truth in all religions. The degree of which depends on how close each one is to this Abolute Truth that all of mankind seeks, which was given to St. Peter by Jesus.
Yes, Peter was Jewish by heritage, but “Catholic” came into being quite early in the Church’s history – around 150. I am going by memory, so I welcome correction here on the year.
So you’re saying we have free will to accept the gift and free will to later dis-accept it. So eternal life isn’t necessarily eternal even though Jesus said when we accept him as Lord and Saviour, we will have eternal life.
We each have eternal life, since we each have an eternal spirit. The only question is: where will we spend eternity?
Ah, but in scripture, “death” is separation from God. So if you have eternal life, that means life with God.
I agree on the definition of death. We have a choice on whether we spend eternity with God (life) or separated from Him (death), as related in the the Gospel of Luke, beginning in 16:19. Christ also makes it clear that how we live our life matters, that faith without works is empty, as He relates in Matthew 25: 31-46. Shawn, this exchange between us gets to my earlier point. Fundamentalist Christians can read scripture one way. Methodists another. And Lutherans yet another. And yet there can only be but one, ultimate Truth. Is there a Holy Spirit-inspired authority? This is the flashpoint question, and I come down on the side of the Catholic Church for many reasons. Thanks for your respectful and solid responses.
Thank you, Tom, for the discussion, and the well though out points. I am not as “well-read” biblically as I would like to be, but I am trying.
You clearly know your way around the Bible. I wish the typical Catholic was half as good in this department!
I think the more important verse is Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Salvation is forever. Those who walk away from their faith, I would argue, were never saved to begin with.
John 10:29, seems even more clear that salvation cannot be lost.
The Bible was given to us to teach us about God, to lead us to God, and to show us how to live as He would have us live. That is one source of authority. The Holy Spirit is given to all believers for the same reasons, and to help us discern between truth and error. That is another source of authority. The members of the Body of Christ are given to each other to strengthen and support each other. That is a third source of authority.
The need of every Christian denomination, Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, to define itself as the only true faith has always bothered me. If we continue to pummel each other with Bible verses, we are only supporting our common enemy.
There are, as others have said, basics that are agreed on by all who truly follow Christ. We can endlessly argue about whether you can or cannot lose your salvation, or whether you believe in free will or predestination or some combination, for example, but those arguments are peripherals. The crucial question is: Are you living the life of Christ every moment of every day wherever you are?
I can’t see any post here defending “the only true faith”. You might be referring to “the fullness of truth.”
I agree with you that it is important to live the life of Christ always, as I’m sure you would agree that there are differences in beliefs across denominations. If we picked just one of the most important differences, that both would consider an immutable truth or dogma (i.e. not peripherals), how could we come to a definite resolution as to which is more truthful?
What are your thoughts on strength in unity as it concerns the body of Christ? Would we be stronger if unified, or weaker?
I don’t think there is any doubt we’d be stronger if unified, with all fully practicing the faith containing the fullness of the Truth.
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