Recently I was asked by someone to comment on his statement that “Roman Catholics are not Christians.” I find that this is a blanket statement with which I do NOT agree. I wish to show evidence for my disagreement both statistically and anecdotally.
In the first part I looked at the question statistically, primarily using data from Statistics Canada, and from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
In this second part I will focus on an anecdotal analysis.
2. Andecotal Analysis
I feel I need to offer a bit of a disclaimer, largely because of some comments that I got in part 1. I am not a Catholic, I am an Evangelical Protestant. I am not a Catholic because there are a number of Catholic doctrines that I do not believe in, and what I believe is very important to me. In my mind, some of these differences are significant, others are minor. I don’t feel it is important to list the differences here as I don’t really want to get into arguments about what should or shouldn’t be in the lists.
I would also like to reiterate from part 1, that salvation is found only through faith in Jesus Christ. What I like to look for in a person, is a definite commitment to faith in Christ, adherence to the early basic creeds of Christianity (I am sorry, but if you don’t affirm the divinity of Christ then you are not a Christian), and I look for the fruit of the Spirit. (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self control) Of course, only God knows a person’s heart, and when the final judgment comes I am sure that I am going to find surprises on both sides of the ledger.
In that final judgment, one of my biggest surprises is going to be how many things I got wrong. Even in those areas where I am pretty sure I have my theology right there is likely to be a few shocks. So when I write what I write, I do it with a certain amount of humbleness knowing that just because I disagree with someone, doesn’t mean that I am right. The other person may be right, or we may both be wrong.
Much of my theology I find has been shaped by reaction against what I have seen in my own previous traditions. I have found that those who have left a particular tradition tend to be its strongest critics as they are so focused on what was bad in their old tradition that they cannot see the good. As anyone who has read my profile knows, I have appreciated much from the various traditions to which I have been exposed, but in some cases it took a long time to focus on the good that I experienced in a particular tradition, and focus less on the bad. This tendency to focus on the negative of a previous tradition was very well described by C. Michael Patton in his post Converting from Evangelicalism a few weeks ago. He wrote:
From what I have seen, converts are sometimes the most unable to see things with a balanced perspective. Because of their belief that their previous faith commitments betrayed them, they approach issues as “enlightened” warriors against those former allegiances. The problem is that they normally wear their bitterness on their sleeve and this further taints the glasses that they think they are not wearing.
He goes on to say that:
Misrepresentation, ironically, abounds in these circumstances. They feel as if being a convert gives them a pass to say anything they want. “Don’t tell me what they believe, I used to be one!”
So how does this relate to this post. I have known both Evangelicals who have become Catholics and Catholics who have become Evangelicals. I have been told by some former Roman Catholics what Roman Catholics believe. Are they accurate in their assessments? I really am not a good one to judge, as I have so little experience in this area, but my feeling is that generally their objectivity has been been clouded by their previous experiences.
Take the topic of Mary worship for example. Do Catholics worship Mary? Some former Roman Catholics say yes. Catholic doctrine says no, she is to be venerated but not worshipped. Maybe some do worship Mary, but my own experience has been that the Roman Catholics that I have come in contact with over the years have not done so.
Let me introduce you to two of them.
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