Are Catholics Christian?

99 comments

I know this sounds like a silly question to a lot of people, but unfortunately a lot of people in this world don’t know the answer. Personally, I’ve encountered many protestants (and even some Catholics) that thought that Catholics were not Christian.

I’m not sure why though. I think some Catholics have just been really, really poorly catechized and some others have been influenced by some very anti-Catholic groups who spread misinformation.

So let’s set the record straight. Christianity started about 2000 years ago with a man (who was also God) – Jesus Christ. This man, Jesus, started a single Church with his apostles.

Where is this Church today?

The line of authority of those same apostles (in particular, the head of the apostles, Peter) can literally be traced to the leaders of the present day Catholic Church. In other words, the apostles of Jesus were the first leaders of the Catholic Church. In studying these early Christians, we also see that they are undeniably “Catholic” in their beliefs.

For over 1000 years there was only this one Church – the Catholic Church.

In the year 1054, a schism occurred in the Church. The “eastern” part of the Church split off and is known today as the Eastern Orthodox church.

And it wasn’t until almost 1500 years after Jesus founded his Church that any “denomination” appeared on the scene. This was what is known as the protestant reformation, where some Catholics decided to break off from the Catholic Church and start their own churches.

Protestants are “protesting.” That’s where they get their name. So what are they protesting? They are protesting the Catholic Church – the original Church that Jesus founded.

So the answer to the question is a resounding yes. And not only are Catholics Christians, they were the first Christians.

99 comments Add comment

Laurie D. Bailey July 14, 2009 at 10:38 am

Very well written. Brief and to the point. Catholic is a faith of God and WE not a faith of God and ME. Let us pray that President Obama doesn’t divide us yet again….

truth November 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Actually the first disciples were christians, not catholics. The catholic name came later. Seems weird if their the true church why then are their still ppl called christians! Bc catholiscm is a sect of christianity. The oldest sect. That’s it.

Matthew Warner November 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I don’t follow your logic.

First of all, there is evidence that the term “Catholic” was being used to refer to the “Christian” Church within the first century after its birth. It simply means “universal” and it was applied to Christ’s Church fairly early on.

Second, just because people may change the way they refer to something doesn’t mean the “something” itself changes. Those first disciples who, yes, were called “Christian” were the first apostles and leaders of the Catholic Church, which is the same Church that Jesus founded. There is just the one Church. And the present day Catholic Church traces her leadership all the way back directly to those first apostles and their teachings.

Dale November 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

OK, I honestly am not trying to offend anyone here so I will make that clear right off the bat, but I honestly feel like this needs to be said. What difference does it make? We all read history books or attend churches where they teach this stuff right, and each one will have a different opinion on who, what , when, where, and how. None of us were actually there to experience it for ourselves, so none of us truly knows who called who what and when. The point I’m trying to make is this, it is a foolish argument. I know, because I too used to argue about all of this kind of stuff, and all it creates is dissension between to brothers or sisters in Christ. I’m assuming you are a beleiver and follower of Jesus Christ. I honestly don’t think Jesus wants his children to argue over things like this because when it comes down to it, it takes the focus off of him and the relationship we should as Christians desire to have with him. Focus on Jesus, focus on the heart, love your brother, don’t create needless arguments over things that no one can truly answer or know for fact. That is not the way we should be attempting to fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Matthew Warner November 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Thanks, Dale. First, I think that’s an oversimplification. It would be great if it were that simple, I agree. I wrote more on that here.

Second, I disagree with you that “no one can truly answer” these things. God gave us a brain to use. Through looking at facts and using our rational mind we can figure out quite a bit, actually. We may not be 100% about everything, but I find that we can get to a very rationally sound position that not only helps to win souls but makes our faith that much better.

Third, figuring out many of these things and continuing to learn about them more deeply is one of the primary ways we accomplish the over-simplified dogma that you just gave us (i.e. focusing on Jesus, etc.). One of the key ways we learn about God is through learning about His creation. One of the best ways to learn about Jesus is to learn about His Church (His Body) – the one he left us. One of the best ways to focus on Jesus is to commune with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist and through the other sacraments that he gave us. And of course scripture!…which is ripe for much, much further discussion or “argument” over some fairly complex and nuanced things. But isn’t that beautiful? That there is so much for us to discuss and learn about God? Makes for an interesting and worthwhile journey.

I certainly understand the desire to throw the hands up and say “who cares” about all this stuff when it starts to get complicated or unresolvable or difficult. But when we stick it out and continue to learn and grow we find it worth while and actually essential to a spiritual journey.

Thanks for reading and sharing! God bless you.

Dale November 4, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Ya know, I actually like your answer quite a bit. Give me some time to read the article you wrote and ponder some of these things, and then i’ll post again. You have me thinking now. I love it!

Matthew Warner November 4, 2011 at 10:55 pm

You rock, Dale! Thanks for your openness and for making me think, too!

Dale November 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Well, I did get a chance to read your article and think this over a bit. First, I want to say that I was very impressed with the article. Just as a reminder ( although i’m sure you know from my previous posts), I am an Evengelical Christian who is attending school to obtain my Bachelors degree in Christian Ministry. I have to say I completely agree with the article. It reminds me of my proffessor whom just recently was speaking on the importance of reading the Bible as a story (non fictional of course, I don’t want that miss interpreted) and knowing how we fit into that story. It is after all our story too. To start I have to let you know a little background. After turning to Christ, oh I would say two years ago now, after going through some very dark and tramatic times in my life, I have a tendancy to view the world of Christianity in a certain light. I have a huge heart for fellowship. The world is a cruel place and full of wickedness, and no matter what your sect ( as the author truth wrote about above) we are all Christians in a battle to stay strong in this world. We need each other. so when I wrote my previous post my concern was over dissention between Christians. Why fight with each other ya know. I hope that makes sense. I do however beleive strongly in the the Journey as you put it of learning. Without studying and searching for answers really what do we have? Takig part in things such as communion, having fellowship with other Christians, and studying history and most importantly God’s word is how we draw closer to him. Thank you for helping me to realize that we should not try to oversimplify. Your right Christianity is complicated. By the way you are the one who rocks man! I really feel God let me to this website to have ore fellowship mith my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thanks for having this page up.

Matthew Warner November 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Thanks so much for your comments, Dale! If we are able to have more positive conversations like this about some of the divisions within Christianity, I have no doubt we’ll be able to bring about more and more unity…which is what Jesus’ prayer is for us…to be truly one.

Thanks again!

John December 9, 2012 at 5:52 am

Dear Dale, Warner and other lovely readers. first of all allow me to highly appreciate your fruitful comments and clarification about the Catholics and being a Christian. It means a lot to me. Don’t forget that Christians are getting stronger day by day in the world and I am proud to be converted into Christianity. I am a Catholic Christian for over 10 years. I am from Afghanistan, from a country where 99% of the population are extremly Muslims. Here is no life for Minorities and it is a hell, But I am proud that Jesus help me alot in my life.

Love you all please pray for me and my families safety and security.

Regards
John

Dale December 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

John,
For some reason the site won’t let me respond directly to your post, so I do hope you recieve this message. Brother, you and your family are definitely in my prayers, and will continue to be. I have placed a note in my Bible as a reminder of you, and will make it a priority to pray for you and your families strength and safety. Thank you for posting. I am so very glad that the comments by myself and others meant alot to you, as your post also means alot to me. Your post has actually made my day. Thank you!

God Bless

-Dale

Hillary March 2, 2013 at 9:30 am

Get a room you two!!!

Fady December 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Of course Catholics are Christians. The only people that deny this are individuals from different Christian subgroups that try to attack Catholicism. Such individuals don’t mean to say that Catholics aren’t considered a taxonomical group of the Christian faith, but that only they (usually protestants) know the “true” way of Jesus and that all others, Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, Lutherans, Orthodox, or any other Christian religions are wrong. It’s really quite sad because our Lord said in Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” I’m Catholic and follow the teachings of the Catholic church but I refuse to say that I know the exact way of the Lord and that everyone else is wrong. I believe we are all united as Christians by certain beliefs about the birth, death, and nature of Christ, and that we often disagree about the specifics. I don’t think any one religion is 100% right, even mine, but that we can do only do our best to interpret and follow the Lord’s teachings.

Manya July 14, 2009 at 11:00 am

Great post. I was completely confused the first time I heard someone question whether or not Catholics were Christian….say what?! Lol You did a great job of explaining it.

Marcel Arsenault July 14, 2009 at 11:18 am

Thanks so much for this teaching. With over 30,000 eclisial communities now in place, I see why it was the Lord’s prayer near the end of his physical life on earth “that they be one as I am one with you Father”
it gies to show what pride and disobidience can do to individuals and groups for generations.
Let us be one in Him and have full life in Him
read John 6:54. Pevtro@gmail.com

Jim Oberschmidt July 14, 2009 at 11:38 am

It is both good instruction and correction well done, Thank you Matt.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you on your journey in the faith. jim

Pam July 14, 2009 at 11:56 am

Excellent points made! I appreciate your ability to be succinct!

Joshua of Catholic Tech Tips July 14, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Ditto.

Bill July 14, 2009 at 12:40 pm

This is a question, in my opinion, that can only be asked by people who are completely ignorant about the Catholic faith, about our liturgy, and about our history. Sometimes the asker is ignorant because he or she has been misinformed (misled, lied to), sometimes the asker is simply refusing to accept the truth. But growing up in Texas and living here (almost) all of my life, I’ve sure heard a lot of ignorance about Catholicism.

A good answer might be, “Of course Catholics are Christian! How could anyone think otherwise?” The other person should then come back with something more specific that you can easily refute.

Artie July 14, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I am with Bill on this one. When you live in the buckle of the “Bible Belt” Catholicism is clumped in with Mormonism and JW’s as being non-Christian which is ignorant.

Ignorance like this really shouldn’t exist anymore with the vast amount of information that is so easily accessible.

I have to keep in mind that me and my family may be the only Catholics friends and neighbors will ever know. How important it is for us to live out our faith.

Andreas July 15, 2009 at 10:00 am

I used to date a Texan girl who had very religious, bible-thumping Baptist grandparents. She told me I should not mention that I used to be Catholic – and of course also shut my mouth about my agnosticism. But being Catholic seemed to be slightly worse than being a Satanist. I think it had to do with worshiping Mary, which to them seemed blasphemous. Ahhh, the fun that comes with different denominations…

And just for a chuckle:

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! Don’t do it!”
“Why shouldn’t I?” he said.
I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!”
He said, “Like what?”
I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?”
He said, “Religious.”
I said, “Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?”
He said,”Christian.”
I said, “Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?”
He said, “Protestant.”
I said, “Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?”
He said, “Baptist!”
I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?”
He said, “Baptist church of god!”
I said, “Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?”
He said,”Reformed Baptist church of god!”
I said, “Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?”
He said, “Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!”
I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off”

Daniel Harris January 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Well, that wasn’t bigoted at all.

Artie July 15, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Worshiping Mary is wrong. Asking “praying” for Mary’s intercession is what we as Catholics are able to do. I agree Andreas that divisions within Christianity are scandalous.

http://markshea.blogspot.com/2009/07/semi-permeable-membrane-of.html

I thought this was a pretty good article, very straight forward and accurate representation.

Chris Weidenhamer July 19, 2009 at 10:57 pm

I’m a member of the Conservative Baptist Convention, and I’ll start by tipping my hat to Andreas – that was funny! That being said, I’d like to throw a few things out there for comment and thought:

In the circles I travel in, no one wonders if Catholics are Christian. We wonder how many Catholics are SAVED. That is to say, how many are depending on their own merit to get into heaven? I wholly expect good works to follow when someone becomes Christian, but those works can’t get you into heaven. I know your catechism doesn’t teach that your works will save you, but I know many former Catholics who believed it did and who still have loved ones with the same issue. Oh, before anyone chimes in, the same Q can be applied to protestants too.

Another though to ponder: Are you aware the difference between Catholic and catholic? Big C = Holy Mother Church; little c = the whole holy church. I have put my faith in Christ as my Lord and Savior. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer. I don’t, however, put any faith in the Pope. I don’t pray the rosary or attend Mass. I do worship at a church, but it’s catholic, not Catholic. I confess to God but not a priest. Where is the line before I’m not Christian by Catholic standards?

My biggest concern (from my limited, fallible perspective) is that the Catholic church has done for Christianity what the pharisees did to Judaism. Take the Lord’s commandments and bury them in human structure, system and rules. See what I’m saying?

Matthew Warner July 24, 2009 at 10:45 am

Chris – thanks for the thoughts! They are good questions.

My thoughts in return would be this:

1) As Catholics we believe Christ founded One Church. Not a catholic Church and a Catholic Church and a Southern Baptist Church and an Anglican Church, etc. All Christians are somehow a part of this One Church in one way or another – whether explicitly or implicitly. But we believe that the Catholic Church is that same One Church. So, from our Catholic perspective, we believe you to be a part of the Catholic (big C) Church (same as the catholic Church) through your baptism, but it is an imperfect membership because you don’t recognize and practice the fullness of God’s deposit of faith He gave to His Church. I understand you won’t agree with that, but just telling you where we’re coming from so you can understand better. And the Church has very good reason for taking this position.

2) I totally understand your concerns of what the pharisees did to Judaism. And there is no doubt that leaders within the Catholic Church and other denominations have all been like the pharisees at different points. But remember that Jesus wasn’t condemning all rules and human structure (in fact, he was obedient to it all his whole life as a good jew). He was condemning the way the pharisees hid behind such structure and missed the spirit of the law.

We shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just need to view the structure in the proper light.

Another significant difference here worth mentioning is that Christ founded The Church personally, gave it his Holy Spirit to guide it, gave direct authority and power to its leaders, commissioned them to “go forward as he had done”, and promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against it – among other things. Not to mention that this Church also happens to literally and mysteriously be Christ’s Body.

This institution is entirely unique from any kind of pre-resurrection Jewish institution or leadership.

Chris Weidenhamer August 4, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Forgive me another pair of questions here, if you please:

What is “the fullness of God’s deposit of faith He gave to His Church”, and what does it look like to recognize and practice it?

Matthew Warner August 8, 2009 at 9:15 am

Good question, sir.

I would say that the fullness of faith would include everything that God gave us through his Church (his Church being the vehicle He chose to do so). This includes everything that Jesus taught his Apostles – not just what happened to get written down. The Bible admits even that not everything Jesus did was written down.

Many non-Catholic Christians believe this entire deposit of faith can be found and understood fully in scripture alone. Of course, this was an idea that only popped up after the reformation and wasn’t the case at all for the early Christians. The early Christians held fast to the Traditions given to them by the Apostles and those with apostolic authority – both written and oral (full explanation here with scripture verses if interested.).

So the fullness of faith includes ALL that Jesus’ Apostles taught and practiced. And I believe you can find this in the Catholic Church.

And since we share so much with non-Catholics and agree on so much, the Catholic Church doesn’t view other denominations as totally wrong. It is usually more accurate to say that they just don’t have this “fullness” of faith (of the truth) found in the Catholic Church. They only have part of it.

Hope that helps!

S. Maftir August 13, 2009 at 11:36 am

I think it would have been helpful for those unfamiliar with the Reformation,
to mention Martin Luther. Also, the word/name, “Christ” is in the word “Christian.”
Of course Catholics, who belong to Christ, and He to them, are Christians.

gerald August 28, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Chris, if you don’t know what the full deposit of faith looks like you don’t have it for Jesus said “You shall KNOW the truth and the truth shall set you free.” and “those who worship God shall worship in spirit and TRUTH”. The truth is knowable.

mjackson December 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Catholics are not Christians!!! Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and also among many more scriptures Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. The teachings of Mary are adding to God’s Word…immaculate conception..Added…patron Saints…Added…absolution from a priest…Added..having a pope with infallibilty….Added…confirmation…Added…the eucharist…added…lent and ash wednesday…Added. I can go on and on. Catholics make the Word of God of none effect just like the Pharisees did!!! You focus on your made up history and I focus on the Word of God. 1 John 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. You know why you all don’t and won’t hear me because you are not of God and reveal who you really are…NOT of God and definitely not Christians!!

Catholic debating pro-life April 22, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Father, forgive them, they no not what they do…

D-em June 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Ok, lets calm down here mjackson. I agree with you that Catholicism contradicts the bible, but your verses to prove this are out of context. This is talking about the sole book of revelation, not the entire Bible. The warning was to those who changed or added to the warning book of revelation to the 1st century christians. This was a very important warning that God sent to John in his dream and changing anything would be misleading to Gods people, therefore, putting them under His curse. But use proper verses to back your argument. Youre on the right track, though.

DaveP December 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm

mjackson, I will say this as lovelingly as I can. You are quoting scripture to justify your opinions. I can do exactly the same to justify all the blasphemy you list. For example, Luke 1,28 is the justification for the immaculate conception.doe Catholics interpret this incorrectly? You can argue that, but I can just as easily aruge the same of the passages you quite from Revelation, which is unquestionably the most symbolic book of the new testament.

How about John 5, 39-40….Christ’s own words encouraging all to seek revelation BEYOND the scriptures.

I have many Baptist friends. But I fear for anyone who condemns others based how they interpret scripture.

Matthew Warner December 18, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Good points, Dave.

The other extremely problematic thing with mjackson’s case is that when the book of Revelation warns against adding unto the prophecy of “this book”…it could only be referring to the book of Revelation…as it was not a part of any biblical canon at the time that it was written. So – if anything – if we take this passage as mjackson is interpreting it…it would be “not of God” to believe anything that isn’t explicitly written in solely the book of Revelation. Which is certainly not a Christian belief.

All of this demonstrates a point of view that ignores the historical context of the bible, how it came together by the Authority of the Church, and is a good example of how a belief in the “bible alone” (a belief that is itself something that has been “added” outside of the bible…only in the past few hundred years in fact) ultimately falls short.

Many prayers for you mjackson.

Kyle B. March 2, 2010 at 1:39 am

Hello, all. First off, I consider myself a Reformed Christian in the tradition of Augustine, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards (the greatest American theologian). I have a question.

This blog post defines Christianity strictly according to apostolic succession. I ask, why is it so important that you have the ability to point to some man today who stands in line with Peter? Early in church history, when heretics were as common as orthodox believers and all claimed super-special, super-secret knowledge of Christ, it most definitely proved useful. It proved that the message being preached was “apostle-approved”.

But ever since the canon of Scripture was discovered at Nicea in 354, apostolic succession should have become obsolete. It existed to safeguard the “apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42), and it served its purpose. Now we have that teaching collected and leatherbound. So why is it still so crucial? What’s the use of the thing? So you see my point. The Christian religion consists solely in the content of its teachings as found in the Bible. Not content plus a token holy man.

Does he interpret the Bible? But why should Benedict be a better interpreter than John Calvin or Martin Luther?

Matthew Warner March 2, 2010 at 2:35 am

Interesting thoughts, Kyle! Thanks for sharing.

Those are good questions, but I think there are lots of reasons why we need apostolic succession and why Jesus and the apostles set it up that way. Here are a few quick ones off the top of my head:

1) That’s how Jesus set it up. He started a Church – not a book – and gave authority to its leaders to forgive sins, bind on earth and heaven, preach the gospel…to be sent as “the Father sent Him”. The apostles commissioned new leaders and instructed them (all in scripture) to hold to these traditions (the ones by letter and by oral tradition). And they told these leaders to continue to pass this authority down.

2) If Jesus had thought all we needed was a book (with no authority especially commissioned by Him and given special guidance from the Holy Spirit to interpret it) then it seems reasonable that he would have just given us that book. But he didn’t. And nowhere does he instruct the apostles to do so. And nowhere does the Bible claim He has done so. Instead, He gave us a Church led by members with apostolic succession and authority.

3) Nowhere in the bible is the idea supported that the authority of the Church is only useful or that it “runs out” after some list of apostolic letters are canonized (354).

4) If the Church had the authority to define the canon of the Bible (this book that you believe contains the entirety of the Christian religion), why would it suddenly lose that authority once it canonized the bible?

5) If you think there was division and confusion in the early Church…what do you make of today? There are thousands more divisions than there ever was in the early Church. A book by itself does not establish unity. In fact, it is the belief that all we need is the bible (sola scriptura) and no authoritative Church that has led to the biggest splintering of Christianity in all of our history (these past 400-500 hundred years since the reformation). If we needed this central unifying figure and protector of apostolic teaching in the first years of Christianity…then we need it more than ever now. The more Christians have denied the central authority commissioned by Jesus (Apostolic succession), the more divided we’ve become…not unified. That’s a fact.

The list goes on and on. But finally, I think you have a misunderstanding of what the Pope does. He can’t do anything that is not in total agreement with what the Church has always taught. And simply calling him an interpreter leads to even bigger misunderstandings.

John Calvin and Martin Luther came along and took up beliefs that were not consistent with what the Church had always taught. You can’t find their teachings in the early Christian life or historical Christianity. They took it upon themselves to come up with their own interpretations of scripture without the context of apostolic teaching.

The Pope does nothing of the sort. So comparing these people is like comparing apples to oranges. The pope has been ordained the authoritative leader of Jesus’ Church. Through the laying on of hands and the apostolic authority passed down directly and personally from Jesus to the apostles and to the present day. He is in communion with that same Church and all of the Bishops who were similarly ordained and given authority passed down from the apostles directly and personally. Everything the Pope teaches is in accordance and agreement with the totality of apostolic authority, Tradition and scripture. He is working directly within the commissioned organization that Jesus Christ himself founded and started. His predecessor was given the Keys to the Kingdom by Jesus Christ himself. He claims no right to change Church dogma or to interpret it any differently than it has always been interpreted when it pertains to faith and morals.

Sorry to get so long here. I hope that helps give you a little bit more of the Catholic perspective on it. I’m very glad that you commented and shared your thoughts.

The bottom line is that Jesus started a Church with real leaders. A Church with a real, human leadership (Peter and the apostles) and gave them authority. The Church Jesus started had an official leadership. A head of that leadership (not a token holy man). And they passed down that authority to others and told those that received it to continue passing it down (2 Tim. 2:2). That’s Jesus’ Church.

More reading on Apostolic Succession here if interested.

God bless you.

Tyson March 10, 2010 at 9:13 am

Mathew,

I thankyou for this article and helping me to realise my catholic faith is just as good as any other christian demoniation. After hearing those who have something against the Catholic church i began to doubt myself. You helped me realise there is no doubt. So thank you. And may God help those who are unable to see past their closed minds.

God Bless.

Scott March 11, 2010 at 11:17 am

Catholics were hardly the first Christians. It was hundreds of years after the Resurrection before the trappings of the Catholic Church were invented. It is those trappings that Protestants are protesting. Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church in response to the selling of indulgences and many other corruptions perpetrated by the Catholic Church. Are you saying Jesus would have sold indulgences, or approved of them? Of course not, and to my understanding, the modern Catholic Church rightly condemns them. To equate the modern Catholic Church with the Catholic Church that Protestants broke away from and then to equate both of those with Jesus’ original Church is to deny simple historical fact.

Matthew Warner March 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Scott – I encourage you to read the post a little more and some of the comment thread here. You should also check out the writings of the early Christians. It’s very easy to see that they were Catholic in belief and practice. And I’m not sure what “trappings” you are referring to that were “invented” hundreds of years later? If you can be more specific maybe somebody can address them.

The Church is not defined by customs or abuses of a certain time period. The fact that the Church has had sinners in it (for instance, who abused indulgences) is not an anomaly of any one time period. Jesus gave authority in His Church to humans – imperfect ones. The rationale you are using to identify the Church is flawed.

Thomas March 17, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Jesus established the local church through his disciples, namely Peter. Not the Baptist church. Not the Presbyterian church. Not the Catholic church. He established the local church. The church at Ephesus. The Corinthian church. The church at Philippi. The church at Thessalonica. The church in downtown New York. The church in China. The church in Burkina Faso.

Yes, we are part of the church…but not necessarily the Catholic church.

I do believe some Catholics are Christians. I do believe some Baptists are Christians. I do believe some Episcopalians are Christians. But there are plenty of self-proclaimed Catholics, Baptists and Episcopalians who have not been regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. So to make the claim “So the answer to the question is a resounding yes. And not only are Catholics Christians, they were the first Christians.” is somewhat over realized.

Peter, Paul, James, John, Luke and the others writers of the New Testament never found their identity in a church of any sort – they only found their identity in Jesus, because He alone is the only one worthy of our boast.

Matthew Warner March 17, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Thomas, though there were local communities of the Church with organized, locally authoritative leaders (bishops), Jesus created only one Church. And if you read the writings of the early Christians (and scripture along with them), they had a very different understanding of the Church than the one you are portraying here. They adhered to the authority of the bishops and their leader (Peter and his successors). They also believed the same things the Catholic Church believes. They believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The sacraments. Apostolic succession and Tradition. It’s all there. And all a very interesting read. That Catholic Church traces its leadership, authority and teaching directly and historically back to that same Church.

Check out here for much of what the early Christians (many of them students of the apostles) believed and practiced.

And this is an overall good read if you are interested in a Catholic perspective on the Church.

God bless ya!

Jason June 13, 2010 at 3:59 am

As a Protestant returning to the authority of the original Church, I think this is a brilliantly succinct and objective summary. Well done.

The only thing I would point out, however, is that there were 12 Apostles in the original Church. Peter was one. When the schism of the 2nd Council of Niceae occurred, the Roman Church left all other eleven apostolic patriarchies. So I would suggest that, having the majority of the Church leaders, the Orthodox Churches have greater authority than Rome.

Matthew Warner June 13, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Thanks, Jason!

However, I wasn’t aware of any schism at the 2nd Council of Niceae. And of course, the Church is not a democracy anyway. Even if what you say is true, Jesus made Peter head of His Church. Additionally, by the time of the 2nd council of Niceae in the 8th century there were hundreds of bishops, each valid and all succeeding from the Apostles. It would not have been a matter of which particular “apostolic patriarchy” they succeeded from when it came to their position on a matter. Still, can you please provide a reference to what you are claiming? I’d be interested in checking it out and learning some more. Thanks for any help! God bless!

GADEL August 19, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I have an expanded version of this same topic about we Catholics being Christian or not. Catholic Fiction Special Edition: Are Catholics Christians? http://www.youtube.com/cceerpp Pax tecum.

suzanne October 15, 2010 at 10:03 am

Matthew,,,thank you so much for this post; but thank you even more for your kind responses to the ‘protest=ants’ here. You are way more than gracious, which of course, is a gift from God. I used to be a ‘protest-ant’ but thru God’s grace found my way into the Truth and fullness of the Catholic church and there is NO going back!! Once you KNOW the truth, it does INDEED set you free!!

Kevin Francis Bernadette Clay October 26, 2010 at 9:14 am

The more the Church has become Protestant they less Christian Catholics have become. Protestantism leads to Liberalism, which leads to Indifferentism, which leads to agnosticism, which leads to atheism. In a word, Modernism – “the synthesis of all errors.” T

Ricky Jones October 26, 2010 at 11:54 am

Great post Matt, it’s important to get these things out there. As basic as they are it is said to see the ignorance of Christians (both Catholic and non-Catholic) in the world today. Obviously with so many different churches interpreting and abusing the scriptures to teach what they want to teach it is extremely difficult to see eye to eye. That’s why the “one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church” is so important, because it’s teachings have never changed. Although the humans who make up the Church are flawed, that doesn’t make the Church itself flawed. It is guided by the Holy Spirit “forever.”

Thanks again Matt, God bless! We should all pray for those who have yet to come into the fullness of truth that is Catholic Christianity, especially those whose words are hateful. As someone else said above, “forgive them father, for they know not what they do.”

collins November 6, 2010 at 4:05 pm

let’s not argue about the things of the LORD ,
CATHOLICS are CHRISTIANS…infact the FOUNDATION of the name CHRISTIANITY.

Rolypoly October 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Are catholics Christians? Are Christians catholics? 1=1?

Susan November 9, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Of course Catholics are Christians! Catholics are followers and disciples of Christ, indeed,
the first Christians, as Jesus founded the Catholic Church, and only the Catholic Church.
So obvious that the name “Christ” is in the word, “christianity.” Christians are followers and disciples of Christ. Catholics were the first Christians.

Leah November 30, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Hi Matt, I love your blog!!! (I am a new reader)
Your answers are guided by truth and told in love.

I grew up in a Christian home (Methodist) and had a profound experience with the Holy Spirit as a child. As a young adult, I wandered away from my faith and went so far as to study and practice several other religions and forms of spirituality. The true and living God began tugging at my heart through the writings of C.S. Lewis while I was in college — I have been a disciple of Jesus ever since, never looking back. The decision to follow Christ has led me down a very long and winding path. I read, studied, questioned and grew in my faith under the pastoral care and tutelage of many different protestant churches ( Baptist, pentecostal, Assembly of God, Church of God, Lutheran, and Episcopal — to name a few) until eight years ago when my heart finally found its true home in the Catholic Church. I was received into full communion on the Feast of Christ the King in 2002.

I have written all of this to tell you that I have a HUGE heart for our protestant brothers and sisters. After all, I fell in love with Jesus in a protestant church. The enemy seperated us nearly 500 years ago and we are ALL children of a great divorce. I live in the ‘bible belt’ where Catholicism is almost always misinterpreted by faithful followers of our Lord. My Christian family is understanding but it is hard to feel so seperated from them within the body of Christ. Even my protestant brothers and sisters with open hearts towards Catholicism feel daunted by it’s depth and the long process of Catachesis. Most of them shun theology all together and just attend “free church” or non-denominational churches with very basic statements of faith. They have said, “I am not a scholar, I can’t learn all that it takes to become a Catholic.” I admit, it took me years of prayer and study.
On the flip side, I see many gifts within these protestant ‘denonominations’ that could serve to strengthen the ministry of the Catholic Church. We NEED each other!

I know that unity can only come through the Holy Spirit and what seems impossible for us, is possible for God. I know the Lord has a calling on my life as a little “bridge”…as I look around, I can see small bridges every where (being built by Him!) Today, I saw another one through your blog. :-)

Let us all pray for Unity within His body. Let us all become small bridges of restoration.

God Bless You!

Mike Harris February 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I am in no way shape or form denying anything you mentioned. All that I want to say is this: saying “Catholics are christians” is like saying that all people in this world are good people. We wish that were true but it just isn’t so. What I mean is that there is no one person on the face of this earth that can say who is christians and who is not. That would be judging people and there is only ONE judge of people, Jesus Christ. We truly do not know who is christians and who is not? They only way we can identify people as christians is how they are living their life. If they are following Jesus Christ and living their life like Christ wants us to, then we can assume, only assume, that they are christians.

Terri March 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Thank you for clearing some of this up. I grew up catholic, and when I was first asked if catholics were Christians, I thought they were kidding. Lately, I have heard several people reassert that view. It’s heart-breaking. And I feel strongly that God is asking me to take a stand. When I was confirmed, I stated that Christ was my Savior. I will not deny my love for Him or my faith in Him, by saying that I wasn’t “saved” according to Protestant teachings. It appears that many religions are picking and choosing who can go to heaven. How does this bring anyone to Christ? Isn’t that what we,as Christians, are all called to do? I will keep this website as one of my favorites. Thank you for standing up!

Philip May 19, 2011 at 3:04 am

Are Catholics Christian? What a question!!! The Next big question would be: Is Israel still Gods chosen people!

Its funny that when Christ died the temple curtain was torn in half, also the temple was destoyed in 70 AD. Did you ever wonder why this was done? Maybe because Christ is the Temple and all need to come to him to be saved? Anybody who attempts to take the place of Christ in any manner is, according to the Bible, the anti-christ. Who can forgive sins? Christ does. It was Christ that said, NOBODY comes to the Father but through ME. No man can approach GOD on our behalf. The pope is JUST A MAN, nothing special about him, a dirty rotten sinner and in desperate need of slavation.

Mary was only chosen because she was from the line of David, as predicted. She is no more important to salvation than the colour of my car.

You can be a Catholic and a Christian, but then you need to stop adding to the bible. Saying the rosemary means nothing and good works are fruitless. Also, guess what, good people go to Hell. Who would you rather put your Faith, Life and Love in? Man or God? His God-inspired word or man-made tradtions. God who never changes, or man that is flawed!

But in the end it is your choice, Live for Christ, or follow a man. Personally i don’t think its worth the risk to place your eternal life in the hands of a man that has never expeirenced Christs love for his Church (Marriage).

Matthew Warner May 19, 2011 at 8:35 am

Philip – thanks for the comments. I hope you’ll learn a bit more about what the Catholic Church teaches (and about what ALL of the Bible teaches, as opposed to just select parts of it that support your pov).

Here is some good reading on forgiveness of sins if you’re interested.

And whether Jesus chose to work through and use Men to do his work (including the forgiveness of sins, which is clearly shown in John 20:21–23) or not would not take away the fact that everyone still comes to the Father except through Him.

And the Rosary is a meditation on the Life of Christ. Why would that mean nothing? And scripture repeatedly emphasizes the value of good works – as well as the importance of faith (which is what the Catholic Church teaches). How you can say that good works are fruitless after reading the bible is a bit shocking. Love is a good work (something you DO). Is Love fruitless? Of course not.

And it’s a matter of Catholic teaching that we put absolutely all of our faith in Jesus Christ. So again, I’d urge you to learn both what the Catholic Church teaches and what scripture teaches. I think it will help reconcile a lot of the misunderstandings you’re expressing here.

Terri May 19, 2011 at 8:30 am

You know what Phillip, I am sick and tired of hearing degrading things about faithful people. To equate Mary to the color of your car, is disgusting. Even God values her more. He values all of us more than that. You are right to say the Pope is a sinner, we all are. Where you fall short is to only focus on a few scriptures. How convenient it is for you to pick and chose what God has spoken as most important. Jesus lived a compassionate life for a reason, to set an example. So keep up your hatred and demoralizing speech and see how many you lead to the grace of Jesus. Few I would imagine can tolerate you elitism. And as far as the rosary (not rosemary), do you really think that God focuses on how we pray or what we share with him? My heart says he cares more for the message, then the attire of the messenger. And keep up your lack of “good works.” I do not understand how anyone can read the Bible and miss his message about treating your fellow man.

Stefan June 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Thank you for the article it was a very good explanation. I would just like to say that to worship Mary is blasphemous, to pray to her and hold her in reverence is what the Catholic church does, she was chosen by the lord your God to bear his son. any thought word or action against God is a sin, she was chosen by God are you sure that equating her to the color of your car isn’t a sin? that is a thought and word against God’s choice is it not? I will leave it to you to decide Philip. are you a Catholic? if so you should hold Mary in high esteem. Are you an Atheist? Then please do not leave these comments and a forum. Are you a Baptist? Then please do not insult your brothers in faith and the choices of the Lord your God, who exists outside of this time and sees all that you do, have done and will do. and I beg of you to read C.S.Lewis “The Screwtape Letters” and “Mere Christianity”
-Stefan

Stefan June 3, 2011 at 3:45 pm

sorry to clear up the first part I was saying the Catholic church does not worship her as a god or anything, I was saying she should be held in reverence.

Jason July 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm

This post seems logical but what you’re not taking into account is what the teachings of Christianity are and if Roman Catholicism has continued with those teachings or long since departed from them.

Check out the following article that addresses this very issue:
http://pro-gospel.org/resources/articles/95-catholic-christians-is-this-an-oxymoron

Matthew Warner July 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Jason – thanks for sharing. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you actually believe what is said on that link you shared. But honestly, it’s completely off and can not be taken seriously by anyone who wants to have an honest conversation about this. I didn’t have to read far (like the first few lines) at all before finding error after error. Even on it’s first two points (authority and justification) it not only gets Catholic teaching wrong, but it gets scripture wrong too. It shows a lack of understanding of Catholic teaching for sure. So I can see why it would come to the conclusions it does. But it also makes a lot of fundamentalist mistakes when interpreting scripture, lacks the nuance of reality and the totality of scripture and fails to understand such in Catholic teaching. I hope you’ll consider learning what the Catholic Church teaches from a more credible and accurate source.

God bless ya!

Dale Williams July 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Wow, you are very misinformed when it comes to your defense of the Catholic church. One statement you made was Jesus founded the Catholic Church, and that is not true at all. Second the Catholic Church was absolutly not the first Church at all. Also the Catholics were not the first Christians by any means whatsoever. Please study your history before making statements. I have no intention of offending you, but if you wish to know more I can also give many examples. I can also offer numerous examples on many things the Catholics do that are simply not Biblical and far from how Jesus and the Apostles originally set things up when building the church.

Matthew Warner July 29, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Dale – obviously I totally disagree with you. And I think history, logic and scripture do, as well. But thanks.

GIGI August 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Dale…Thank you I have to say I totally agree with you, I was raised catholic..and as I got older and read the bible for myself..which isn’t something they really want you to do in the catholic church…I realized it was not for me and far off base. The statues/idols that are given way to much reverance..the changing of the 10 commandements for goodness sakes..they can’t do that read your Bible people..The catholic denomination has there own way of doing things. In history it is documented where they changed the 10 comandements..I’m not making this up . Do your homework before you post such idiocracies. Christians follow GOD’S WORD not a man/priest/pope…this will be why so many are fooled in the end times…Remember Satan will have you to believe you are doing right…you must read you bible to be properly armed against him. You cannot put you faith in man.

Matthew Warner September 6, 2011 at 9:30 am

GIGI – your comment is full of misinformation and misunderstanding. The Catholic Church is ALL about the Bible. It is read EVERYWHERE in everything she does. If you missed that, then you are either blind or were very poorly catechized. I urge you to learn a little bit more about the faith you were supposedly “raised” with. The Catholic Church absolutely supports people reading the bible for themselves. She just doesn’t support everyone coming up with interpretations of it that are not consistent with that of the Apostles and the Church Jesus entrusted the Keys of the Kingdom to. God bless you.

Chris February 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Gigi, to say that the Catholic Church doesn’t want people to read the bible is far off base. In fact, over the course of a three-year-cycle, the liturgy at each mass will cover the entire bible. Therefore, over my 33 years, just by going to mass, I have heard and or read the entire bible 11 total times.

GADEL September 6, 2011 at 11:15 am

I humbly recommend all those who doubts that Catholics are Christians to read my article Are Catholics Christians? or watch the video on the topic. God bless.

Dale Williams September 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

GIGI, I am a student of Christian Minitry. I am also a Protestant. Since the post that you read where I apparently was bashing the Catholic Church, I have done much searching and research. I also have been doing some talking with Matt Warner. The interesting thing is, since my research, my tune has changed. I do beleive Catholics are Christians. I, like you, do not always agree with how things are done in the Catholic Church, however, I now beleive very strongly in the freedom to interpret the bible and choose how to worship our Lord and Savior. No one will ever interpret the Bible the same way. Now I know the Catholic Church is against other interpretations, but hey lets face it, every Protestant denomination is against other interpretations too. My point is, that God looks at peoples hearts and wether that person has a personal relationship with him. I do not beleive in the final judgment God will look so much on tradition. As a matter of a fact it might be interesting to note that in 1963 Pope Paul VI in the 2nd Vatican Council recognized the legitimacy in alternative churches. So if the Catholics are willing to except the Protestant churches, why are we so quick to judge the Cathoic Church and it’s followers. Everyone who loves and worships Jesus Christ, and has that personal relationship with him, is in my opinion a Christian, and that goes for Catholics or Protestants.

Terri September 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Yes, finally someone who understands. God knows what is in our hearts, only he can judge us. Glad you did your research, and I beg you to spread the word.

Russell H. April 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm

“Catholics”, “Christians”. Whatever. It’s so clear that it’s all made up by man. It’s only a matter of time before we come across the tomb of jesus with his true mortal remains inside, and then we’ll just have to prove the other worlds dogmas wrong. And that day will be a HUGE burden off of humanities shoulder. Remember: it’s simply a matter of time.

victor dariyan May 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm

It is true that catholic was the first church but the name catholic stands for “universal” that is the fact. However the bible never mention apostle peter as the leader of the apostles and hence the first pope. When you read your bible you will find that the desciples at one time ask Jesus Christ as to who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven greatest (mathew 18:1-5). Obviously Jesus knew how corrupt the heart of man and his tendencies to dominat his own kind so Jesus answerd unless you are like a child like this one, you will not see the kingdom of God! Jesus is God! God is no respecter of person. The only way to please God Almighty is by doing his will and not bother about who is great and who is not. For all have sinned. We make heaven by grace and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ only, not by works less any man boast. In the light of the above Jesus was teaching his desciples to develop trust in the Almighty God through the Holy Spirit for leadership and direction, not on mere man. For that Jesus never single out any desciple as leader over the others. Thus the idea that apostle peter was the first leader of the catholic church is nothing but a mere imagination of some misguided souls. JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY HEAD OF THE CHURCH!!!

Matthew Warner May 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Victor – Yes, Catholic means universal. Just as it still means that today. And nobody here is denying that Jesus is ultimately the head of the Church. The Pope’s role is one of “servant of the servants of God” and makes no claim of being sinless or perfect. So I’m not sure what your point is really. By your comments, it appears you have a misunderstanding of what Catholics teach about the Pope and Peter and his role.

There is a TON of scripture that supports Peter being first among the Apostles. See this link for references.

Additionally, here are a few other links that might help in understanding the Catholic teaching on the subject a bit more.

- The Primacy of Peter
- The Church Fathers on Peter’s Primacy
- Peter and the Papacy

Thanks for the comment!

Rob C May 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I appreciate all the posts regarding this issues. I learned through the teachings of the bible that there are many areas that can and will be misinterpreted while we are here on this earth. I think we should get away from the historical arguments about when protestants broke away etc. While they are important to learn lessons, the history is secondary to what God has taught us about salvation through his bible. 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also died for sins, once and for all, the just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God…” and Galatians 2:20 “For by Grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one may boast.”

Saying all of this, Catholics can be Christians. Catholics can be heathens as well. Protestants can be Christians. Christians can be heathens. It is important to remember what the word of God says regarding salvation. It doesn’t matter what church you go to. It doesn’t matter who you dad, mom, pastor, etc. is/was. Is God the Lord of your life, not because of your works, but because of His grace which he demonstrated for by dying not he Cross?

cynthia geracoulis June 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm

One HUGE mistake….it was the Orthodox Church that is the original church and the Catholic Church formed after the 1054 schism…..BIG BIG difference!!!!

Matthew Warner June 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm

That’s not true at all. The Catholic Church and Orthodox Church were the same Catholic (universal) Church prior to the schism.

Engelberto June 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Mr. Matthew,

I will fully respect your belief and opinions, however I don’t agree with you, catholics are not Christians. I used to be catholic, and left the Roman catholic church 13 years ago, I am now an evangelical Christian. I have done my research but no sense in discussing it. I just pray that God’s Holy Spirit opens your eyes one day. God bless you.

Matthew Warner June 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Thank you for your prayers. I surely need them. I hope you’ll reconsider your research one day and perhaps see that what you left is not really what you thought you were leaving. God bless.

Julie August 1, 2012 at 10:13 am

If the Catholic church is Christian and says they were the first church, then why does the catechism of the Catholic church not line up with the teachings of the Bible itself? The Council of Trent speaks many anathemas on those who believe the literal teachings of the Bible such as salvation by grace and not by works.

Matthew Warner September 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Julie, the Catechism does not teach one thing that contradicts the bible and vice versa. So I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Of course it may contradict incorrect interpretations of the Bible…but so would anyone who interpreted scripture differently than somebody else. Which is part of the problem in the first place (everyone using their own fallible interpretations of scripture to support their beliefs).

But the one specific example you gave is incorrect anyway. The Catholic Church teaches salvation by Grace alone (fyi). However, I think you are referring to a misunderstanding of the role of “faith and works.” I wrote more on that here if interested.

Paul January 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Hey, Matthew. I’ve just read many of the exchanges you and others have had on this forum and I want to state/ask you something.

First of all, I go to a Roman Catholic high school and so our school has a small place of worship and a deacon. I once asked my religion teacher if he could tell me whether or not one could enter Heaven through living a good life but at the same time not proclaiming Jesus Christ as his savior, or in other words, salvation by works. My teacher didn’t know the definitive answer according to the Church and redirected me to deacon Shaun.

I proposed the same question to the deacon and he told me that people could enter Heaven based solely upon their good life or works regardless of their beliefs. He claimed that he based his answer upon documents written by the Church. Now I wonder, was he telling the truth? I come to you because it occured to me that this statement, “The Catholic Church teaches salvation by Grace alone,” is something I’ve honestly never heard from a Catholic before.

Am I misinterpreting you?

Forgive me for my ignorance of the Catholic perspective but, as you can tell, I’ve never been exposed to proper analysis of Catholicism. I should probably ask my school for a Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Matthew Warner January 17, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Paul – it’s a great question you had. I think there are some nuances we’re missing here and perhaps the overlapping of two different questions or some misunderstanding of what is really being asked.

The issue of “Grace Alone” is an easy one. Everything good is by the grace of God. Our works, our faith – it is all by God’s grace that we are able to have or do any of them.

Anyone who is saved will be saved by Jesus through His Church. Those are the facts. Now, is it possible that somebody who has never had the chance to learn about Jesus explicitly to be saved by Jesus through His Church? There is no reason to think God couldn’t do that. So if you’re asking if it’s possible to be saved without knowing Jesus explicitly or without being completely inside His Church, the Church believes the answer is YES. It’s possible. It’s easy to think about small babies or unborn babies or the man on an island scenario where they simply never had the opportunity to learn about Jesus *explicitly*. The idea that such people would spend eternity in hell separated from God seems very contrary to Christianity.

On the other hand, if a person has the opportunity to learn and know Jesus and understand His Church, but then willfully rejects it or ignores it, such a person would be held uniquely culpable according to their actions, knowledge of them, etc.

And yet still this is a different issue from saving ourselves by our own “works”. Which you have to be careful what each side of the question is meaning by “works” and by being “saved” when you ask these questions. So, considering what I said above, is it possible for a person who was a good person (in other words, they responded to God’s grace in a positive way) even though they never had the chance to explicitly learn about Jesus and His Church to be saved? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it was their good works by themselves that specifically saved the person.

Here are a few other links that might help explore it a bit more for you here and here.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

God bless.

Santosh Raj September 3, 2012 at 8:08 am

Matthew Warner
dear there you see Catholics gt the first commandment wrong.. there is no further explanation needed… dont be flesh bond be lead by the Spirit… If you hear you will knw the truth and the Truth(Jesus Christ) will set you free!!

Alex September 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Hi, Matt.

Thank you for engaging us non-Catholics respectfully in discussion. I came here to seek a better understanding of Catholic doctrine so as not to misconstrue any of the church’s teachings. The issue I’ve been wrestling with is the preeminent place Mary has in the church. Indeed, Mary was blessed to have been chosen by God as part of his plan for redemption through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I still, however, do not understand the reason for such veneration when we are called by Jesus to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” I suppose the response would be that veneration of Mary does not exclude the outpouring of love to God. I also understand that Catholic teachings do not call for Marian “worship” but rather, deep respect and admiration. But, I also know that God is a jealous God. As I see it, while Catholics understand that they are not worshipping Mary, their veneration of Mary often outmatches their worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, so in a way it prevents Christians from loving God with “all” their hearts, minds, and souls.

As my Catholic friends have informed me, they do not pray TO Mary but rather WITH Mary. I understand the distinction, but why would we need to ask Mary to intercede on our behalf when we have direct access to the Throne of Grace because of our High Priest, Jesus Christ? (Hebrews 4:16). The response I often get from my Catholic friends is that the apostle Paul encouraged the believers in the early church to offer up prayers of intercession. That I believe wholeheartedly as I pray for others and ask others to pray for me. However, praying to God for others is not the same type of intercessory prayer as asking Mary with such deep devotion to pray for us. By analogy, a friend told me that asking Mary to pray for you is the same as asking your aunt or your grandma to pray for you. I do not agree since while I deeply respect my family members, I would not venerate them in the way that Catholics venerate Mary. While I understand that asking Mary for help is a way to bring Catholics closer to God, I believe that Marian devotion creates an unnecessary barrier to true fellowship with God because it puts so much focus Mary, and not God. If we are going to venerate someone has given us true, unbreakable, and eternal fellowship with God the Father, it should be Jesus Christ: “I am the Way,the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-7).

I suppose the difference lies in how we view Mary to begin with. My understanding of the Immaculate Conception is that it teaches that Mary was born without original sin. Additionally, the church teaches that Mary was sinless: “If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema.” How can that be when the Bible clearly tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). There is neither an exception carved out for Mary nor is there any biblical command for Marian devotion.

I am not professing that Catholicism is not Christianity. I firmly believe that you are Christian, whether you call yourself a Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, etc., if you believe with all your heart, mind, and soul that Jesus Christ, and He alone, has brought you into everlasting fellowship with God and that your desire is to live your life as a living sacrifice. I do, however, struggle with Catholic traditions that provide opportunities for believers, such as Marian devotion, to lose focus on the one true King, Jesus Christ. If He is who all Christians profess him to be, then why would we focus our attention elsewhere?

Thank you for your thoughtful responses and the respect you have shown to your non-Catholic brethren. I look forward to your response.

God bless,
Alex

jason September 20, 2012 at 12:02 am

Alex,

Your concerns are valid and there’s so much more at stake. However I wanted to comment on what you wrote in your 2nd to last paragraph.

“I firmly believe that you are Christian, whether you call yourself a Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, etc., if you believe with all your heart, mind, and soul that Jesus Christ, and He alone, has brought you into everlasting fellowship with God and that your desire is to live your life as a living sacrifice.”

The problem is that Christians are not those who believe, no matter how sincerely or hard, that Jesus brings them to fellowship with God and desire to live as a sacrifice. True born again (Jn 3:3) Christians are those who have repented of their sins and believed in Jesus Christ as the sinless son of God who died for their sins and rose again to new life (the gospel). Salvation is by grace through faith and not of works (Eph 2:8-9). When we teach dogmatically like Rome does in Trent that works are a requirement of salvation because we must cooperate with God, they have essentially negated God’s grace (Rom 11:6).

For the following reason, it is impossible for a true Catholic to be a Christian. For one to be saved in Roman Catholicism, they would have to not know Roman Catholic teaching and have received correct biblical teaching regarding the gospel elsewhere.

Matthew Warner October 3, 2012 at 1:22 am

Jason – I’m sorry, but you not only misunderstand Catholic teaching, but your logic is faulty, too.

We absolutely must cooperate with God’s grace. This is clear in scripture. Over and over and over again scripture makes it clear that we must *do* something in order to be saved. It does NOT, however, then follow that we have therefore “negated God’s grace.” That’s absolute nonsense. Just listen to what you are saying. You are saying that by cooperating with God’s grace, a person has negated God’s grace. Makes absolutely no sense. Especially when you recognize that it is ONLY by God’s Grace that one can cooperate with anything in the first place (Grace Alone…absolutely Catholic teaching). What you are repeating is the same illogical anti-catholicism that gets repeated so often. But if you just think about what you’re saying for a minute, it’s clear to see that it holds no water. The logic is faulty. And if you instead care to read the Catholic position with any bit of charity, you’ll see it is completely consistent and logical.

For additional reading and plenty of scripture references backing up my above claims, see these posts here:

- But the Greatest of these is…
- Do you have to DO anything to receive God’s forgiveness?
- Over-simplifying Salvation: Are you saved?

Matthew Warner October 9, 2012 at 10:00 am

Alex,

Thanks for the thoughtful comment and questions.

I actually just wrote a post to address most of what you brought up here. You can read it here. Let me know what you think!

The main thing I think I don’t address in the new post is your point on: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

But I think that, first, that passage is more saying “the whole” has sinned if you look at the original language. So referring to the fallen state of Man as a whole. If we applied it in the way you are saying that each and every human has sinned without exception…then there is no exception for Jesus himself! Which of course was fully human and did not sin. So your strict interpretation fails in that very clearly contradictory way…which would lead me to believe it is not saying what you are saying it says.

And saying that there is no biblical command for Marian devotion therefore it is wrong is also illogical. There is no biblical command that all truth (or even all revealed truth as it pertains to faith and morals) is explicitly in the Bible (sola scriptura)…yet that seems to be the approach you are implicating taking here.

Also, it does say in scripture that all generations will call her blessed (which is a form of devotion) among other events that demonstrate how special she is (the fact that God was given a body by her one of them of course).

Overall, though, I can’t stress enough what my final point was in the new post I just wrote is (linked above). You make the claim that you feel that marian devotion has caused folks to “lose focus on the one true king” or that it creates an unnecessary barrier to true fellowship. My experience says otherwise. The people I have met over and over again in my life who radiate the most profound peace of Jesus Christ also happen to be the biggest fans of Mary. She’s not a barrier when understood correctly. She’s a magnifying glass, a conduit, a path to understanding Jesus and knowing him even more deeply. I’ve seen it in countless Christians.

God bless you and thanks again for your sincere conversation!

Matthew Warner October 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm

And here’s another good biblical reference to Mary and, really, a kind of honoring of her: Who is the woman clothed in the sun?

JOSE HIDALGO October 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I was born and race catholic just like millions of people ,but now i’am a real Cristian ( JESUS FOLLOWER ) here is one….. just one simple example of why catholics are NOT CRISTIANS ‘they keep celebrating halloween ?

Susan May 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Are you familiar with “All Hallows Eve,” Jose? America has secularized this holy day, not Catholics.

Terri October 3, 2012 at 6:57 am

I get so sick of all this “Catholics are not Christians” garbage! Shame on those of you who feel you alone can judge. Last I checked, it wasn’t your job, but left to a much more worthy authority. Jesus must be outraged at the way His people argue over this. The Bible is the Living Word, and touches people in different ways for a reason, to feel closer to God. Too often we focus on certain passages in the Bible, but God speaks to each person through his/her heart and soul. Your anti-Catholic teachings fail to bring anyone closer to Jesus; they simply divide a people who love the Lord. Shame on YOU!

John January 10, 2013 at 4:11 am

Dale, thanks very much for your lovely words and prayers. Please stay in touch with me via my email. Below is my email address for those who like to add me in their friends list and allow me benefit from their nice words, maxims and holy messages distributed.
Email: rahimi.rockstar@gmail.com

Regards,
John- Afghanistan

Linus January 22, 2013 at 10:15 pm

I’m glad to know that there are so many people out there that are certain they know better than anyone else what the truth is.

Joshua January 27, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Am I interpreting your article wrong, or are you saying that Protestants went against God?

no one February 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm

hi guys all your comments are great! it really helped me!

Arlene March 16, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Just want to say that this was a great post….learned a lot from reading what all of you had to say. Even better, you all were, for the most part, respectful and thoughtful. That kind of interaction should typify the church – whatever you call it. Nice work.

Jayme April 21, 2013 at 4:59 pm

My boyfriend’s Catholic and my family is Evangelical. I told my mom that he is a Christian too, just a different denomination, but she doesn’t believe me. :/

Wallace May 5, 2013 at 12:45 am

Hello All,

I really have a simple question. If I believe the bible as the infallible word of God, and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior (Gospel) will I be lacking anything?

Thanks.

Connie June 9, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Thanks for clarifing this up for me. My son is attending his friend’s graduation from college. He wanted to give her something meaningful. It is a necklace made by a christian company. She is catholic. He didn’t want to offend her. Now it is clear to us.

Ray June 24, 2013 at 10:43 am

I am a sinner, i do try though. I grew up methodist and we had many similarities to the catholic church. I have dated several girls who were catholic, and have attended mass with each of them. Each was from a different state. In fact i googled this topc because my friend Valerie took great offense when i said we sere both Christians. She was a Catholic of 28 years at that time and became angry after i explained we were both followers of Christ.
When attending mass i was a little hurt when i was told i couldnt receive communion because i was methodist. Also I became scared at all the statues of men/saints that i really had to look for one of Christ and during the sermon i felt more honor was placed on Mary than Jesus. God is love and i love every one of you equally wether your Catholic or Protestant and i hope to get to know each of you in my fathers house over the course of eternity. I realize that not all Catholic churches are like this. Has anyone else had these experiences?

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