“Dear Ufuomaee,I have a friend I really want to settle down with but he is a Catholic and I’m a Pentecostal. What can I do in this case, cos I don’t know if my parents will accept a Catholic.”
I am quite stuck on how to advise you on this. Ordinarily, when two believers agree on how to worship God, through Jesus Christ, they still may have differences in certain less fundamental beliefs. Marriage is hard enough, when you agree on your faith. When you don’t, you expose yourself to a lifetime of pains. We have the biblical counsel to not be unequally yoked in marriage for good reason (2 Cor 6:14).
There is quite a world of difference between Catholicism and Pentecostalism, because of the idolatrous way Catholics treat Mary and the saints, not to mention their Pope and other erroneous doctrines. But does that mean you would be unequally yoked if you were to marry a Catholic, as they still profess Christ, and one can reason that they are also Christian? That is a tough one to answer, because I’ve always believed it isn’t about the religion that is practiced, but the faith that is placed in Jesus Christ.
However, to be on the safe side, I suppose it would be better not to marry him, because you will find your faith stunted by ways his beliefs contradict or challenge yours…and you may not be willing to let him lead you spiritually, and that is a disaster waiting to happen. Your husband needs to be the spiritual head of your home, and if the foundation of his faith is wrong, he is in no position to lead.
You also need to consider how you would raise your children, and if you will find agreement there. Marriage isn’t just about you and how you are feeling now. It is also about him, and your children, and ultimately about GOD. Whatever you do, your first obligation is to God, and to be found in His will. Remember, you were bought at a price (1 Cor 6:20).
It’s hard because you’re emotionally invested already, but you should have thought about this before you allowed things to get this far. Would you date a Muslim or a Mormon? They also believe in Jesus, but their religions are riddled with heresies. So, you just have to decide if you believe enough in Jesus to not let yourself be led astray by your heart. Remember that you are to worship God with all your heart too…
Pray for strength and more wisdom to do the will of God. The will of God is that all may be saved and come to the knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:4), who is the Truth. If you compromise on what you believe in order to marry, you won’t accomplish the will of God, because you will be stepping out of it yourself, and causing them to be in greater danger by not being a light (or an example) for them.
I pray that God will settle your mind and cause you to know and obey His will in this matter. All the best!
Photo credit: http://www.pixabay.com
Got questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked this post, you might like READER QUESTIONS: DOES THIS DREAM MEAN I SHOULDN’T MARRY HIM?
Read more READER QUESTIONS
Are you blessed by this ministry? Why not partner with me?
hmmm…i see…many people have wrong views of d catholic faith..
LikeLiked by 1 person
Please correct me 🙂
This is a really tough one. While I agree with what you wrote as pertaining to being unequally yoked and the future, I do have reservations concerning your knowledge of Catholicism. Just for the record, I’m a Spirit filled, tongue talking nondenominationalist who married into a family of Catholics. While I am not an expert on Catholicism, I do know that not all practice equally. For instance, my dad-in-law, while claiming to be a devout Catholic would often say, “Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest when I can talk directly to God?” I also had a priest friend (who is now in heaven) who was more charismatic then the majority of the people I know. His love for Jesus was undeniable. What I’m trying to convey is that more information needs to be obtained than just comparing two denominations and making a blanket determination. I hope I presented this in a non offensive manner, because it was not meant to chastise but to offer up my thoughts on the subject.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Thanks Patrick for your kind response. As you can see, it was a tough question for me to answer, and I had to get to the heart of the matter.
Even though I asked the person in our private correspondence if her boyfriend was a practicing Catholic or just a professing one (maybe he was born Catholic), it really doesn’t matter, because he is still not a practicing Christian, in the sense that she is as a Pentecostal.
There’s a long way to say no, and a short way. Doing a faith by faith comparison is a long way to come to the same conclusion – that there is only one way to God.
I definitely do not know all that Catholics are taught to believe, and as you say, just as there are differences in the way Pentecostals practice their faith in Christ, there will be differences in the way Catholics worship too (although I believe they have far more unity than Pentecostals).
What I do know is that they regard the ‘Pope’ as somebody, as some mediator between them and God, when there is only one mediator between God and man. I also know that they refer to Mary as “Mother of God”, which is a blaspheme considering that God has no mother! I also know they generally pray to or through Mary and other saints, and have quite a lot of ritualistic behaviour in their worship. For me, they are very idolatrous, and not in keeping with Christ’s teachings at all.
Now, we can appease ourselves with the truth that only God knows someone’s salvation, and that we should be careful how we judge. But the faith and practice of Catholicism is public knowledge, and those who call themselves Catholics are declaring that they conform to the faith and practice of Catholicism, which is apart from true Christianity. As such, they would be in as much need of salvation as an Atheist…
I know I have expressed some strong views here, but this is something we shy away from addressing (this is the first time I am saying anything of this nature on my blog!), just how restrictive our faith is. Like Darrell expressed in the blog post I shared on the Spotlight last week (https://ufuomaee.com/2016/06/16/the-spotlight-blogs-i-read-this-week-and-recommend/), that when it comes to those we know and love, or even celebrities, we want to bend the rules on what it means to be saved. It is a question of what we truly believe, and that was my bottom line to the lady in question.
Thanks for engaging me, and I hope I have not offended you too.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Awww heck naw… No offense here. We are on the same page. What I was trying to convey, in a rather poor way, is that not all who claim to be Catholic subscribe to the doctrine of Roman Catholicism. It is in title only. For instance my wife’s cousin claims to be Catholic but regularly attends a Baptist church. I could argue with him till blue in the face and he would still tell me he is Catholic… I know, it is weird. It is similar to the person who is registered for one political party yet votes for the other.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well, for the sake of this post, the boyfriend in question both professes and subscribes to Catholic beliefs and practices. I don’t know what better counsel I could have given her.
Wow. This is really a though one but it is also a question that has an obvious answer but we have to consider that this is a matter of the heart, love and a whole lot of emotional investments.
I was in love with a Catholic guy and when I saw this I was in between two opinions whether to read it or not but I am glad I did.
I will not refer to myself as a “pentecostal” but I will say I am a daughter of the most high, filled with the holy ghost and I know Christ came for me so I can have a relationship in him with God not through any other person or spirit.
This contradicted so much with the faith of my boyfriend who was deeply rooted in the Catholic faith and wouldn’t give that up for anything. If I were to marry him, it was so clear I had to become Catholic, that was the only option!
Would I want to marry him, God knows I wanted to with all of me. But was I ready to leave my faith and take up his faith, no I wasn’t. The difficult part was, can he be a priest over me and over our children, I knew the answer to that was no.
I had to make the most difficult decision I had ever made in my life. I cried like I had never done before but I knew that I knew I was doing the right thing. While I was with him, he will pray and I would be lost wondering oh my, can we pray like this forever together? hmmmmm… I had to let go.
God is worth giving up anything in the world for because he gave you himself, Jesus. If this will separate you from him, give it up. The pain of a broken courtship will fade but the pain in marriage will last a lifetime. Even if you leave him and marry another person, Ishmael will always be a torn in your flesh that you will have to contend with.
I pray the holy spirit guides your heart. If you have a personal relationship with him, ignore us, ask him, he will tell you what to love.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for your beautiful contribution. I’m glad you made the right decision, and I love your closing remark too 🙂
Well this is a tough one, but what I do know is that in a relationship a a lion can marry a monkey n as long as they COMMITED to eating banana the relationship will work. Now ur already having douths n there is the warning signal u need to STOP right there. If u think u can find sm way to make it work when ur not comfortable with it u will regret it later. The first test I wud advice anyone to conduct is spirituallity test: does he/sheknow ur God? Do u believe in the trinity or he believe n God the fathe n the son? Once ur spirituallity doesn’t align ur off to a bad start cos that’s ur source of inspiration n once its skewed nothing else will click. Besides where the kids will worship (confusing them when u pray in Jesus name n they here daddy pray to holy mary), if u go ahead to marry n he might with time cut u off from ur source of inspiration-God. Now I hv a close frnd, we went to to sch frm sencondry to university 2geda. He was a practicing catholic, lay ready, alter boy, even the director in university but today he is married n joined his wife n is not a penticostal. A high ranking muslim general presently in the army too that I knw very well is married to a christian. They have two kids n their agreement is that when they turn 18 they wud decide if they want to be Christians or muslims n they noth attend islamia n go to church with mummy to to get knowledge of both faith. So it boils down to individuality. Only to the extent to which u can live with a thing shud u go ahead n since ur asking this I guess that’s a NO for you! So think wisely n take action! God Bless.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for adding your voice Wizy! I think if she was a worldly person, then there would be no need to heed Paul’s counsel concerning being unequally yoked. But as Christians, we can’t make decisions on marriage based on individuality but Godly wisdom and counsel.
I hope I’ll be seeing more of your contributions on this blog 🙂 You’re welcome!
I don’t think u can rule out individuality before going into a relationship or marriage. Even with Godly wisdom n counsel individuality still comes into play. Do u know your individuality can serve as a litmus test? If a person has come to know and understand his or her identity completely, when u r approached for a relationship or marriage u can know who can or cannot be connected to. God can bring together a fire-brand-holyghost-speaking-in-tongue pastor n pastoress from bible collega can marry today n u discover later that the marriage is a mess! They skabash, bring down fire from heaven n all, but ud say “it was Gods will, we confirmed it”! It being Gods will n u understanding ur personal identity as a person n the rudiments of marriage to be able to deal with another individual r two totally different thing. After all God ordained Paul n Barnabas to work together but cos of Paul’s individuality as a tempramental being they had to be seperated, but it was Gods will for them to work together. Godly wisdom n coounsel cannot be rule out but who u r, ur personal proclivities also comes to play. Thank you.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I totally agree with you in this respect. But in your previous comment, I understood what you were saying to mean that one’s individuality can override the godly wisdom of not being unequally yoked. What I was saying is that, if we are Christian, we shouldn’t dare to ignore it and think “we can cope, because of our personality”.
Definitely, our personality and our free will come into play when we settle on a decision – even if that decision is disobedient to godly counsel and God’s will.
I agree with Wizy. Don’t be afraid or threatened by your individuality. It may be yours, but it can never be apart from the foundation of Christ is you are a believer. I have read from one of your blog posts, it seemed like the apostles taught some things based on the individuality of as many people as could be included into Christ. As well as theirs.
Here’s my point: if you are a believer, your “individuality” does not limit God. As a matter of fact, it will answer to God’s will, unless you live constantly afraid that you will lose your faith as against completely being taken or consumed by God’s love (the latter is absolutely possible and ideal, contrary to what strongly sin conscious and sin fearing Christians of today think).
Also, God does not have to substitute your individuality to be Himself in you. That’s not what “dying to self” or “living through Jesus” means. After all, He made you this way, and His work is now finished in you.
(As a matter of fact, being “human” and worshiping him that way, with our individual uniqueness, was the original intention for God creating us. It’s only because we fell and got so fatally disconnected that God had to come and keep stating the obvious, what was basic, self evident and needless to say, even sending Jesus to die for it. Also, Earth is our destination, not heaven. Heaven is God’s dwelling, and we will visit from time to time, but God’s intention is and has always been Earth for us, and He’s coming to stay with us, as He did with Adam and Eve).
I think in order for us to understand scripture well, we must study it with every tiny character of Jesus that we know of in focus.
Now to address the topic, I understand that individuality in this context means each person’s degree to which they subscribe to their denominational beliefs. In this case, “individuality” becomes an aberration of itself, when people become so focused on their specifics that they cannot see how it only points to the centrality, which is Jesus, so arguing from today till yesterday will mean nothing in the end. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”, and I dare add, whatever religion he is in. A Muslim can call on the name of Jesus, if his religion is just a tag. For example, a person can come from a Muslim family, dress Muslim, speak Arabic and all, but if that person gives His life to Christ, He doesn’t do so to become a Christian, but to become a Christ, and this goes beyond the tag “Christian” or “Muslim”. Ticking Christian or Muslim on government forms does not guarantee your eternity. Some will say ticking Christian is the only way to show who you are, or to not deny Jesus, but even with this, there are greys.
I do not expect you to believe this, as it doesn’t matter as long as we serve the same Lord, Jesus. But I have come from a lot of places as a Christian, and knowing that Jesus was not a “Christian” (“Jew” used to be a religious position rather than an ethnicity, still is to some people), I’m ready with the leading of God’s spirit, to do away with a lot of excesses that keep us stuck in incomplete revelations of God. I am witness of how tags have driven people mad rather than affirm their identity in Christ.
If your heart is on Christ truly, nothing can break you away from His Love. If you like, read Qur’an, read Atheism narrative, etc. It will only push you to God some more.
Summary: whatever our specific religious inclinations/teachings, we’ll be fine if we meet through genuine love at Christ in God. If these specifics make us argue and disagree when we have the same focus, then maybe we shouldn’t take them so seriously. God’s major ministry is relationship. But God’s not angry at anyone or damn them to hell because they believe in Jesus but do not believe that Jesus was born on December 25th or some trivial issue like that. Or that the Sabbath is Wednesday or Monday and stuff. So if this Catholic man and this Pentecostal woman really love themselves, they just need to establish that they meet at Christ. Whether they go to different churches on Sunday, it can work with a little balance and patience in the mix. And the story someone gave of having to break up with someone, I don’t think it was necessary, but well, when we’re so keen on individuality in belief at the expense of true individuality (being ourselves in Christ), it’s bound to happen and it’s our fault, not God’s!
That’s my 25 kobo on the issue.
A meaty contribution. Thanks for sharing.
Tough as the question seemed, you did justice to it. However, John 12:42 – 43 came to mind while I read through the comments.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks Teekay, I appreciate the encouragement 🙂
Well, I don’t know much about catholics or any other denomination. But one thing I do know is that it is very important to marry someone of the same faith as you for stability in the marriage (amongst other reasons).
And you also need to be grounded in your faith to be able to identify the others, otherwise you might end up laying a bed you never wished to lie on.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Profound! Thanks for your contribution dear 🙂
Humm, that phrase on the 4th paragraph, “marriage is not just about you and how you feel now”, do not underestimate this
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yup! Thanks for adding your voice. Feelings can lead us astray.
This will be like a whole new post and for that I apologise. Ufuoma can decide to post separately or as one piece.
Firstly, I’d like to lend my voice to say that I do not think you (the reader asking the question) should go ahead with the relationship, basically because if you are having doubts and asking us (and obviously yourself) these questions, it is a sign that you should at least slow down and reevaluate what you are about to do. Ufuoma has already given the scriptural background to why this approach is necessary, so I will just focus on clearing up some of the erroneous beliefs about the Catholic Church which she used as a basis of this counsel. I feel compelled to do this.
Before I go on, this is not intended to be a Catholic vs Pentecostal battle, so I will just say here that I will not go into a back and forth on this. I will raise some of the points I can manage (for enlightenment only o…) and the others I will leave for another day. I will attempt to quote your words and then provide my humble submission, based on (I might add) on a fuller knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith.
Firstly, I agree ‘there is quite a world of difference between Catholicism and Pentecostalism’ however, I don’t think it is ‘because of the idolatrous way Catholics treat Mary and the saints, not to mention their Pope and other erroneous doctrines’.
To be fair, it may seem idolatrous to one who is uninformed about the Catholics practices, but here is what we really do and why (in short form): The Catholic Church does not believe any statue or image has any power in and of itself. The beauty of statues and icons and the intent of the depiction or representation, move us to the contemplation of the Word of God as he is himself or as he works in his saints.
For a fuller explanation, I am quoting from http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/so-catholics-worship-statues:
‘The Lord did not prohibit statues; he prohibited the adoration of them. If God truly meant that we were not to possess any statues at all, then he would later contradict himself. Just five chapters after this commandment in Exodus 20, God commanded Moses to build the ark of the Covenant, which would contain the presence of God and was to be venerated as the holiest place in all of Israel. Here is what God commanded Moses concerning the statues on it:
And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends (Ex. 25:18–19).
In Numbers 21:8–9, not only did our Lord order Moses to make another statue in the form of a bronze serpent, he commanded the children of Israel to look to it in order to be healed. The context of the passage is one where Israel had rebelled against God, and a plague of deadly snakes was sent as a just punishment. This statue of a snake had no power of itself—we know from John 3:14 it was merely a type of Christ—but God used this image of a snake as an instrument to effect healing in his people’.
Although we do not adore or worship images, as people think, we look upon them as an instrument of God in his divine work as many of our biblical forefathers did.
‘Even though I asked the person in our private correspondence if her boyfriend was a practicing Catholic or just a professing one (maybe he was born Catholic), it really doesn’t matter, because he is still not a practicing Christian, in the sense that she is as a Pentecostal’,
As I read the comment above, I feel like you have somehow assumed that a professing Catholic is someone who was born Catholic and (I think also) one who is NOT a practicing Catholic. I just want to debunk that assumption with my personal existence and many others like me. I was born Catholic, I profess the Catholic faith and I am a practicing Catholic. I know my faith, I believe in it and I adhere to it. I also want to say that as a practicing Catholic, I am also a practicing Christian (in all senses). I also deduce (please feel free to correct me), that you assume that she is a practicing Christian, just because she is Pentecostal. Maybe as I typed it back, you can see the fault in the logic, many people, Catholics and Pentecostals alike, may profess something, but not practice it and also being a Pentecostal does not automatically equate to being a practicing Christian.
Being a Christian is to be Christ-like (or strive to be) and not merely about denominations….as you yourself have attested to here on the blog several times over in several posts and as evidenced by your own life (correct me too, but you are non-denominational and I daresay, very much a ‘practicing’ Christian.
‘What I do know is that they regard the ‘Pope’ as somebody, as some mediator between them and God, when there is only one mediator between God and man. I also know that they refer to Mary as “Mother of God”, which is a blaspheme considering that God has no mother! I also know they generally pray to or through Mary and other saints, and have quite a lot of ritualistic behaviour in their worship. For me, they are very idolatrous, and not in keeping with Christ’s teachings at all.’
3.1: On this note, I will just mention that the Pope for Catholics is NOT a mediator, but merely a spiritual father and in our eyes, the successor of Peter, the disciple, which Jesus called apart and said ..’on this rock, I will build my church (Matt 16:18). This scripture passage when you read up to vs 19, is also the basis for why we ordain our priests and why we believe that in the confessional, the priest is acting in the capacity of Christ and that whatever he (the priest) prohibits here on earth, is prohibited in heaven and whatever he permits, is permitted in heaven. I can’t go on for too long, or this comment will be a book, but I can shed more light if anyone requires it in another post/comment.
3.2: Mary is the mother of God, in the way that your mother is your mother. Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is the Son of God – Second person in the Trinity (and also God in Himself) and so we call her the Mother of God. Please note: That is not to say, that she is superior to God because we say Mother of God. If I need to talk about why we believe in the Trinity, that will also be another post (but search your bible for many instances, when Almighty God says …’Let us…’, especially in the creation story and we can start to wonder who He was talking about and why He would say ‘us’.
While the Church encourages us Catholics to develop our own faith and spirituality to enable us relate more fully with God on a personal basis, we pray to and through Mary and Saints, in much the same way, any ordinary human being will seek for an avenue to approach a benefactor with whom you know someone else has a deeper relationship and is much more likely to be granted the favour if you get that person to ask for you. It is why a person would ask their dad or mum to call a friend to give them a job (you may not like it but it works – in this world and in the heavenly one). It is why some Pentecostal churches have prayer warriors whose core duty (in church), is to help with praying for people’s specific intentions. If mere humans can do this, why not the one who carried the Son of God in her for nine months and raised him to adulthood? who knows him indepth, the way you know your two-year old child? I speak from experience in saying that praying through Mary or the Saints is very efficacious.
Also if we bear in mind, as you noted in Ufuoma’s Conversations with God post, that we may not always fulfill all the conditions for effective conversation with God. She listed some things which influence our conversations with God as: ‘firstly, the personalities involved, then the nature of the relationship, then the relationship level, then the circumstance and then finally, the emotion (or mood)’. If then we can find someone who is close to God, with a better relationship than ours (at that particular time) and someone with the right emotions/ mood….why not utilize that opportunity?
For the more theologically inclined, what I am saying is we pray to Mary and the Saints, acknowledging that while all prayer to God is worship, not all prayer is worship. Prayers to Mary and the Saints is not worship but merely petitioning her /them to help us plead with our heavenly Father.
This is not to say we cannot and do not go directly to Jesus and God. We just see that we may get somethings more quickly if we involve others in asking God.
Specifically for prayers to/through the Saints, I refer you to 1 Tim 2:1-4: where Paul asked that ‘petitions, prayers, requests and thanksgiving be offered to God for all people’. This is Paul asking normal people to pray for others, why shouldn’t this extend to the rest of the body of the Church which includes Mary and all others who have gone to God in glory?? If you would like to refer to verse 5 to contend this: I just want to say that 1 Timothy 2:5 — the infamous “one mediator between God and men” verse — refers to salvation, not prayer.
For the other part, ritualistic behavior and I will just add here, what many call vain repetitions, which I know is a huge bone of contention for many pentecostals.
Ritualistic behavior: On this point, I am not exactly sure what you are referring to, but I imagine it would be our patterns of worship and celebration of our Eucharist, which we call the Mass. To go into this would be a long discussion, I will just say every religion has a system or mode of worship and rules to guide behavior, this is not merely to let believers be united in belief and behavior but also to provide a guide or path for new believers to follow, among other things.
If there is something specific you want to discuss, we can do that. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I can certainly ask, research and study to throw some more light on these things for you.
The bible is full of verses where Jesus acknowledge and even commends repetitive prayer. I start with the prayer he taught his disciples – The Lord’s prayer. So if you repeat the Lord’s prayer, are you committing ‘vain repetitions??? Moving on, in Psalm 136, the words ‘His love is eternal is repeated more than 20 times, in fact all the verses end with it. Is that vain repetition? In Mark 14:32-39, specifically vs 39: ‘He went away once more, and prayed, saying the same words.’ Is that vain repetition? In Luke 18:1-14, Jesus actually told a parable which recommended that we pray and do not get discouraged. If one is praying about a particular thing, I would imagine, that the prayer might use similar, if not the same words. In Revelation 4:8, the bible tells us that the four living creatures sing day and night ‘Holy Holy Holy,….’ And they NEVER stop singing. Is that vain repetition?
In light of these and others passages where prayer repetitions are mentioned, what the Catholic Church strives to teach about Matt. 6:7, is that Jesus wants us to focus on the words of what we are saying and why, as opposed to just reciting these prayers of the church. I acknowledge that many Catholics (myself included) sometimes get so familiar with the words of a prayer that it seems like a recital, but that should not be a blanket assumption that because some are reciting, it is vain repetition.
The key here is that the words should be said from the heart, not the number of times they are said. I think that was Jesus’ emphasis. Some prayers are so profound that you really may not be able to do better, especially if you are a novice at prayer, so they have been put forward as a starter, or guide and we are encouraged to contemplate those words as we say the prayers, in order that we may truly enter into the words so that they are coming from our hearts. I want to mention the Rosary here, because it is also one of the big bones of contention. Some people think the Rosary is mindless repetition, but I like to point out that all the mysteries depict different stages of Jesus life and the prayer help us to maintain focus while we think about that mystery and what God may be trying to communicate as well as what Jesus was going through at the time.
I am linking here a blog post addressing this more fully, for any who might be interested. It is from a Catholic organisation which tries to address Pentecostal and other misunderstandings about our faith: http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/do-catholics-pray-vain-repetitions
In conclusion, I know this comment is long, probably the longest ever posted on this blog, certainly the longest I have ever posted anywhere, but I feel it’s a duty as a practicing and professing Catholic to try to shed light on my faith, as we are all called to evangelise. I know there are a lot of other issues or questions and I also know this post isn’t the place for me to answer everything. But I encourage us all, to first learn more about a thing, before we speak out in favour or criticism of it.
I sincerely did not mean to offend and I apologise if I did or if I came across in any type of way, I only meant this as a clearing up session. Do feel free to reach out if need be, for anything else.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thank you for your comment, which was deservedly long and well-thought out, honest, humble and insightful. I was and I am willing to be corrected on my understanding of the Catholic faith, and my assessment of it was not from a place of authourity, having never been Catholic in my whole Christian experience. I was expecting more of a fall-out from this post (because I have several friends that are Catholic and Muslim!), but I tried to give as honest a counsel as I could based on my understanding of Christianity. I appreciate that you were bold enough to challenge me on the things I said, and I would like to respond, as much as possible to your correspondence.
My response is going to be long, mostly because I want to address what you wrote and respond accordingly. I really don’t want a back and forth debate myself, I’m not sure what that would accomplish. I think it is safe to say that Catholics believe they are the one true Church, while Protestants believe that Catholics have long since strayed from the true worship of God, and therefore cannot be the one true Church, which is composed of those who are obedient to Christ. We may not end up resolving that, because there was a reason for the Protestant movement, and there is a reason the Church has not reconciled til this present time. We can move forward, however, by agreeing to disagree.
I can appreciate the symbolic meaning of icons, statues or images used in worship, even as a means to “move us to the contemplation of the Word of God” as you have said. I think the ministry of Christian literature, music and arts also do this for us, particularly movies. The movie “The Passion of Christ” was very moving. Even though a character was playing Jesus, for the duration of the movie, I felt like I was watching Jesus. I get it. However, there still remains a danger that we cannot appreciate the gospel without these instruments, and a danger that we will have a misplaced dependency or adoration of them.
There is a rich culture of imagery in Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and I think it draws a lot from Judaism. This is not surprising because the Apostles were Jewish, and they strived to maintain the richness of their culture even in Christianity. Many of them still observed the Mosaic law as is written in Acts 21:20-27, even though they liberated the Gentiles from such observances of the Law. Even though Paul wrote strongly for them to appreciate their new liberty in Christ (Read Galatians), culture is a hard thing to overcome. So it is only reasonable that this strong Jewish influence will have taken over the religious worship in the first Church that was led by Peter. But that doesn’t mean that these cultural practices are of any value to Christians who observe them. However, tradition has made them as sacred (in Catholicism and Orthodoxy) as the very fundamentals of the Gospel.
I don’t know why Christ’s disciples who preached that God doesn’t live in temples made with hands will go on to build replicas of the Jewish temple and call it God’s House. I don’t know why they would follow the direction God gave to Solomon for the building of His temple, when God didn’t even want to build a temple among His people in the first place (Isaiah 66:1)! God didn’t even want them to be ruled by Kings…but He gave in at their insistence.
Jesus came to take us back to God’s original plan for His children, where we would all be led by God, who would abide in and among us. Jesus redeemed us to the time before the Law, so that His Law is not to be found in a book, but in our hearts. The Early Christians, having a strong Jewish heritage struggled with this, and that’s why we see a Christianity that looks like Judaism in the Catholic Church – complete with set apart Priests and all!
Regarding whether or not someone is a professing or practising Christian, it can be applied both ways; to Catholics and to Pentecostals. I wasn’t trying to say that all professing Catholics are not also practicing Catholics, or that Catholics are only so because they were born in the Church. It’s good to meet people who are passionate about their faith and can defend it. You will find many professing Christians (read Pentecostals), who can’t defend their faith. Regarding whether I think she is a practising Christian, I don’t think that was the issue I was presented with. I answered her as I would a practising Christian, and challenged her on this by saying: “So you just have to decide if you believe enough in Jesus to not let yourself be led astray by your heart.”
Yes, like I wrote in this post, “I’ve always believed it isn’t about the religion that is practiced, but the faith that is placed in Jesus Christ”. What saves us is not our religious observance, but our repentance and confession of Christ…which should result in obedience and submission to Him and fellowship with one another. However, with the Church as divided as it is in understanding what this means in practice, I’ve tried to steer clear of judging between denominations, believing that as many as are sincere and have the Spirit of God will be led to unity of Faith and eventually practice. However, I am bold enough to address error wherever I find it…within the Catholic and the Protestant Churches.
For clarity… I’m assuming the third Person in your Trinity is the Holy Spirit and not Mary… It sort of reads like you are saying Mary is part of the “Us”, because I didn’t challenge your doctrine of Trinity, just that you would call Mary Mother of God. That you would call a mortal the mother of an immortal, we can agree to disagree on that indefinitely. Remember the time that Mary and Jesus’ brothers came looking for Him, and He said: “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and carry it out” (Luke 8:21). That is Jesus telling you who His mother is. He said “before Abraham was I Am” (John 8:58) and again “How then does David in the Spirit call Him Lord? For he says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies under Your feet.”’ So if David calls Him Lord, how can He be David’s son?” (Matt 22:43-45)! You see, even Jesus would deny Mary as His mother…so why would you insist on giving her such an unholy title? Unless you want to say Mary was with the Godhead at the creation, then let’s see her as who she is, a servant of God with the noble duty of baring and nursing the Son of God in the flesh.
Also, regarding the Pope or Peter or anyone being your spiritual father…let me quote Jesus again: “And do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matt 23:9).
I felt a need to quote this part:
“While the Church encourages us Catholics to develop our own faith and spirituality to enable us relate more fully with God on a personal basis, we pray to and through Mary and Saints, in much the same way, any ordinary human being will seek for an avenue to approach a benefactor with whom you know someone else has a deeper relationship and is much more likely to be granted the favour if you get that person to ask for you. It is why a person would ask their dad or mum to call a friend to give them a job (you may not like it but it works – in this world and in the heavenly one). It is why some Pentecostal churches have prayer warriors whose core duty (in church), is to help with praying for people’s specific intentions. If mere humans can do this, why not the one who carried the Son of God in her for nine months and raised him to adulthood? who knows him indepth, the way you know your two-year old child? I speak from experience in saying that praying through Mary or the Saints is very efficacious”.
Ok, first of all, I feel a need to point this out but… MARY IS DEAD. Mary has not risen and is not exalted in the Heavens. She is not before God petitioning for saints on Earth! She is dead and waiting to be resurrected.,just like Peter, Paul and the rest of them. Why are you praying to the dead? And why do you think that those who are dead are closer to God than the living…? Did Jesus not say “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12:27). Is God going to build His Church with the dead or the living? You, who are living and are in Christ, will do greater things than those before you…if you will be led by His Spirit, which He has given to all who are His, as both a seal of sonship and empowerment for ministry (Rom 8:15). Anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ is not His (Rom 8:9). And we can all boldly approach the Throne of Grace (Heb 4:16), knowing that there is no favouritism with God (Rom 2:11).
Paul teaching that petitions should be made for all people does not justify that these petitions should be made by the living through the dead to God! That is a gross error! The living may pray for the living, maybe even pray for the dead since Paul wrote that some were baptised for the dead (which I don’t claim to understand 1 Cor 15:29)…but never did he advocate that prayers should be made TO THE DEAD for the living.
Regarding ritualistic behaviours, I think you quite understand what I am referring to, and there is no need for me to go deeper, pointing out all your ritualistic practices. What I have said about the Catholic Church resembling Judaism should suffice to show that the Church seems to have missed the true worship of God, in preference for religious practices that have no power. Regarding vain repetitions, God will judge us all. I know many Christians religiously recite “the Grace of our Lord Jesus…” and the Lord’s Prayer, but as someone who has read my piece on Conversations With God (thanks!), you know I am no believer of such recitations. I don’t think Jesus was giving them a formula to pray or recite, but teaching them the basic things that make up a prayer to God. Jesus’ main point was that we don’t need to be verbose or make a show of our prayers, but that we have a humble recognition of God, our need and dependency for Him and His Kingdom, and our obligation to show others the same mercy we desire to receive from Him.
I think I have addressed all your points. Thanks again for your effort in setting the record straight. I hope I have shown you why I cannot accept your practices as anything but erroneous, or at best, misguided. It’s an age-old issue and I mean no personal offence. But we must all be true to God, to whom we owe our first loyalties. I appreciate and respect you as a believer in Jesus Christ.
thanks EJAY for that!
Catholics hold saints in esteem because they are such wonderful images or mirrors of Christ. Paul several times exhorts his readers to be imitators of him: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1, also Phil 3:17, 1 Cor 4:16). Mary was the first saint, and holds high honour today, as she did in the early Church. Over the course of history, devotion to Mary has taken many forms, and even has been confused with worship.
We dont worship mary, we honour her. Let her just pray to God about it