Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Salvation is by faith

Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest, confirms that the secular press doesn't "get it" when it comes to understanding what Christians are talking about. We Protestants understand the church universal [the "catholic" church] rather differently than Roman Catholic teaching does. There are important differences that should not be minimized. The statement by the Vatican ensures that they will not be, and ecumenism must always be based on honesty. Nevertheless, the differences shouldn't be exaggerated, either. The Pope is Catholic. Catholics may not believe that we are part of the "One Church" but they don't believe that, therefore, we are not Christians or that, because we aren't Catholic, we are going to Hell.
The headlines I have seen in the mainstream media confirm most journalists are not theologians, and in this case didn’t bother to consult experts of sound, Catholic theology regarding what the debate is all about. Without a proper context, we read that the Pope says some non-Catholic Christian communities are not churches “in the proper sense of the word” — meaning, they are not part of the one Church Jesus established while on Earth — and think he is trying to say if a person’s name and address is not registered in the local Catholic parish, he or she is not going to heaven. The Pope doesn’t mean that. I’ll say it again; the Pope is not saying only registered, baptized Catholics can be saved, and any journalists or critic who says otherwise, has officially missed the point.

Speaking of salvation, from the sight of things as I see it, it is quite possible that many present day non-Catholic Christians who are fervent believers in, and practitioners of, the teachings of Jesus will get to heaven before the throngs of wishy-washy, nominal Catholics who only show up to the church doors for infant baptism, the taking of marriage vows, and their own funeral. Of course, I don’t know who will be on the other side of the pearly gates, but I believe, with the Pope, that there is more to the challenge of personal justification and salvation than calling oneself a Catholic — or a Christian, for that matter. God works everywhere and in mysterious ways, and if we respond generously to him in as much as he reveals himself to us, I believe his grace will be sufficient. In this most recent document, the Pope puts this principle like this:
“It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them…”
The Pope, along with all Christians, believes salvation comes from belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior, as the only mediator between God and man. The Bible says as much. - Document Released By Pope Stirs Catholic Controversy - FOX Fan

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