Theology

Response to an Ex-Catholic, now Baptist

by Steve Ray on February 6, 2018

A while ago I received an e-mail from a Southern Baptist and decided to take a few minutes to respond. Thought others might be edified by it so I have posted it here without using his name. His e-mail is contained in regular text and my response is in CAPITAL LETTERS.

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HELLO FRIEND:

I WILL ANSWER BRIEFLY SINCE I GET OVER 100 EMAILS A DAY AND SOME ARE NOT ALWAYS HONEST — TRYING TO SET ME UP FOR AN ARGUMENT — BUG HOPEFULLY NOT YOUR E-MAIL. SO, I WILL TRUST YOU THAT YOUR ADMITTED INTEREST IS GENUINE AND I WILL ANSWER VERY BRIEFLY.

Dear Mr. Ray, I listened to a CD of yours,

WHICH ONE? I HAVE ABOUT 30.

but could not determine all of what you believe or find your Doctrinal Statement on the web. What we believe is pretty important (I know you agree). Do you have a Doctrinal Statement besides the Nicene Creed?

Click here to buy a copy :-)

APOSTOLIC, NICENE, AND ATHANASIAN CREEDS. I USED TO SAY I HAD “NO CREED BUT THE BIBLE ALONE,” BUT EVEN PROTESTANTS CANNOT ACTUALLY DO THAT. THEY HAVE TO HAVE AN “EXTRA-BIBLICAL STATEMENT” TO ADD TO THE “BIBLE ALONE” TO EXPLAIN WHAT THEY BELIEVE BECAUSE THE BIBLE DOESN’T SEEM TO BE ADEQUATE. BUT FOR ME NOW — FOR THE WHOLE SHABANG — MY STATEMENT OF FAITH IS CONTAINED IN “THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.”

Having been to 12 years of Catholic School, a faithful altar boy, a good catholic, and an x-president of the local CYO, I am not altogether unfamiliar with Catholicism (at least the Catholicism of the 1950s, 60s and 70s).

IF YOU WERE EDUCATED DURING THAT TIME FRAME, I HATE TO DISAPPOINT YOU BUT YOU ARE PROBABLY VERY UNFAMILIAR WITH CATHOLICISM. THAT WAS A VERY BAD PERIOD OF THE CHURCH — JUST LIKE IT WAS VERY BAD FOR US BAPTISTS RAISED DURING THAT TIME PERIOD.

I “got saved”, as Baptist like to say, at age 24 by reading the Bible (unheard of in my Catholic Church at that time).

MY GUESS, BASED ON GOOD EXPERIENCE, IS THAT YOU DIDN’T GET SAVED BY READING THE BIBLE ALONE BUT BY ACCEPTING A NEW AND NOVEL BAPTIST-ISH TRADITION AS COACHED BY SOME WELL-MEANING FUNDAMENTALIST — BASED ON THE BIBLE ALONE TRADITION WHICH IS VERY NEW ON THE RELIGIOUS SCENE AND NOT FOUND IN HISTORIC CHRISTIANITY.

So, from the Catholic perspective, since I have not attended Mass in 35 years, am I doomed to hell for un-confessed mortal sins? Or, is it possible that I may be saved outside of the Catholic Church? If so, how is that possible from a Catholic perspective?

THIS IS A VERY PREGNANT QUESTION. FIRST, ONLY GOD CAN READ THE HEART AND KNOW IF ONE IS “SAVED” OR NOT. SECOND, IT DEPENDS ON HOW KNOWLEDGEABLE OR IGNORANT ONE IS OF THE TRUTH DUE TO NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. THIRD, IT DEPENDS ON IF ONE ACTUALLY HAS MORTAL SINS WHICH ARE ONLY MORTAL IF THE THREE QUALIFICATIONS FOR A MORTAL SIN HAVE BEEN MET.

FOURTH, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHES THAT ONE CAN BE OUTSIDE THE VISIBLE BOUNDS OF THE VISIBLE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND STILL BE SAVED, INCLUDING OTHER RELIGIONS OR NON-RELIGIONS (CCC 1260). IF YOU THINK THIS QUESTION YOU ASK IS UNANSWERED BY THE CHURCH, IT SHOWS YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND CATHOLICISM, SINCE THAT WAS CAREFULLY EXPOUNDED AT VATICAN II WHICH WAS AN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF THE CHURCH. AND

FIFTH, I BELIEVE THAT MANY CATHOLICS WITHIN THE CHURCH WILL GO TO HELL FOR NOT OBEYING THE GOSPEL, NOT JUST THOSE OUTSIDE WHO HAVE REJECTED THE CHURCH EVEN THOUGH THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING.

I am heavily involved with cold call (door to door) evangelism in my community – not from a Baptist viewpoint, but simply from a general concern for the lost.

I WAS VERY INVOLVED WITH DOOR TO DOOR EVANGELISM TOO, BUT I ALWAYS ADMITTED I HAD A BAPTIST-TYPE TRADITION. WHY DO YOU WANT TO SHY AWAY FROM WHAT YOU REALLY ARE AND TEACH – A BAPTIST. I’VE NOTICED MANY BAPTIST CHURCHES ARE CHANGING THEIR NAMES TO REMOVE THE WORD “BAPTIST.” WHY RUN FROM YOUR HERITAGE AND WHAT YOU REALLY ARE?

I often talk with Catholics of all sorts. I always tell them and others that I don’t care where they go to church, as long as they have a heavenly home when they die. It would be nice to know what a leading Catholic author would say to me if he came to my Southern Baptist door evangelizing, and heard my story. When you ask someone if they are going to heaven when they die – as I am sure you know – you get a whole lot of interesting information in the response.

I USED TO QUOTE 1 John 5:13 UNTIL I REALIZED IT HAD TAKEN COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTEXT BY MY BAPTIST TRADITION. I HAVE WRITTEN EXTENSIVELY ON THAT VERSE IN MY BOOK “CROSSING THE TIBER.” DO YOU HAVE THAT BOOK?

I DARE SAY YOU WILL ALSO GET A LOT OF INTERESTING ANSWERS IF YOU ASK BAPTISTS THAT QUESTION — OR METHODISTS, OR ASSEMBLIES OF GOD, OR PENTECOSTALS, OR LUTHERANS, OR JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES.

ALL IT PROVES IS THAT TOO MANY PEOPLE IN ALL THEIR VARIOUS TRADITIONS ARE POORLY CATECHIZED AND SADLY IGNORANT OF SCRIPTURE AND THE HISTORIC TEACHING OF THE CHURCH.

BY THE WAY, BAPTISTS DON’T “KNOW” IF THEY ARE GOING TO HEAVEN FOR SURE. THAT IS WHY SCRIPTURE CALLS IT “HOPE” AND WE KNOW THAT ONLY THOSE WHO PERSEVERE TO THE END WILL BE SAVED (Matt 10:22).

EVEN BAPTISTS BELIEVE THAT IF ONE FAILS TO DISPLAY THE APPROPRIATE WORKS TOWARD THE END IT PROBABLY MEANS THAT “IT NEVER TOOK.” SO, EVEN A BAPTIST IS NOT SURE UNTIL THE END AND THE NECESSARY WORKS CONTINUE TO BE DONE.

My beliefs, if you knocked on my door – I just happen to attend a Southern Baptist church right now (it is kind of like a mission field for me) – about salvation are simple. One is justified by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior – born again if you will.

Jesus demonstrates "born again" by water and Spirit

I WOULD BE CURIOUS TO KNOW HOW YOU WOULD EXPLAIN HOW ONE BECOMES “BORN AGAIN.” WHEN SOMEONE ASKS ME THAT I RESPOND BY SAYING, “YES, I AM BORN AGAIN, BUT I AM BORN AGAIN THE BIBLE WAY.” THIS OF COURSE IS BY “WATER AND SPIRIT” — WATER BAPTISM (Jn 3:3-5)

THE GOSPEL IS SIMPLE, THE THEN AGAIN IT IS NOT SIMPLE. FUNDAMENTALISTS TEND TO TALK ABOUT SALVATION WITH CONVENIENT “SOUND BITES” AND IN A TRUNCATED MANNER WHICH YOU WILL FIND NO WHERE IN THE EARLY YEARS OF THE CHURCH.

WHEN I USED TO TELL PEOPLE THEY WERE SAVED BY ONE THING: “BELIEVING IN CHRIST” — NOT BY ANYTHING WE CAN DO — WELL, I FORGOT THAT ‘BELIEVE” IS A VERB AND IS SOMETHING I MUST DO.

SO WE DO HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. WE DO HAVE TO “BELIEVE” AND “CONFESS WITH OUR MOUTH” (Rom 10:9-10) WHICH ONLY PROVES WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING, SOME WORKS — WE HAVE TO “BELIEVE,” REPENT, CONFESS, EXERCISE FAITH, PRAY THE “SINNER’S PRAYER,” SURRENDER OUR LIVES — ALL THINGS WE MUST DO — WORK. (CF. John 6:28-29).

However, if there are no works following shortly thereafter, that one was not really saved (or justified). There must be works! However, those works are not a part of “justification”, but a part of the “sanctification” process. Works are a “sure-enough” sign of justification.

Confused Luther

WE AGREE IN PART THAT WORKS MUST ACCOMPANY INITIAL JUSTIFICATION. HOWEVER, THE REST OF WHAT YOU SAY IS INTERESTING BECAUSE SCRIPTURE SEEMS TO DISAGREE, WHICH IS WHY MARTIN LUTHER GOT HIS KNICKERS IN A KNOT).

TOO MANY PARROT MAN-MADE BAPTIST TRADITION AND TRITE SOUND BITES — CERTAINLY NOT SCRIPTURE IN ITS HISTORICAL AND CONTEXTUAL CONTEXT. I USED TO DO THAT TOO. BUT THE REALITY IS — JAMES IS PRETTY CLEAR EVEN IN THE NIV:

James 2:21: WAS NOT OUR ANCESTOR ABRAHAM CONSIDERED RIGHTEOUS [JUSTIFIED] FOR WHAT HE DID [WORKS] WHEN HE OFFERED HIS SON ISAAC ON THE ALTAR?

James 2:24-26 YOU SEE THAT A PERSON IS JUSTIFIED BY WHAT HE DOES [GREEK: WORKS] AND NOT BY FAITH ALONE.
IN THE SAME WAY, WAS NOT EVEN RAHAB THE PROSTITUTE CONSIDERED RIGHTEOUS [JUSTIFIED] FOR WHAT SHE DID [WORKS] WHEN SHE GAVE LODGING TO THE SPIES AND SENT THEM OFF IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION?

I USED TO TRY TO TWIST JAMES AROUND LIKE A RUBBER NOSE TO KEEP IF FROM SAYING WHAT IT SAID. BUT THE FACT IS IT SAYS WHAT IT SAYS.

NOW WE AS CATHOLICS, AND YOU AS PROTESTANTS, DON’T BELIEVE WE GAIN INITIAL JUSTIFICATION THROUGH ANYTHING WE DO. NO ONE WILL STAND BEFORE GOD AND SAY, “YOU OWE ME.” HOWEVER, THAT DOES NOT DISMISS THAT FACT THAT ONCE INITIAL JUSTIFICATION HAS TAKEN APPLIED FREELY AND GRATUITOUSLY BY GOD.

HOWEVER, WE ARE THEN REQUIRED TO COOPERATE WITH THE GRACE OF GOD IN OUR JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION. IN THE END REVELATION DOES NOT SAY WE ARE COVERED WITH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST, BUT WITH THE RIGHTEOUS OF THE SAINTS! REV. 19:8.

FROM MY BOOK “CROSSING THE TIBER”:

How does one receive salvation, justification, new birth and eternal life?

By believing in Christ (Jn 3:16; Acts 16:31)?
By repentance (Acts 2:38; 2 Pet 3:9)? [SOMETHING WE DO]
By baptism (Jn 3:5; 1 Pet 3:21; Titus 3:5)? [SOMETHING WE DO]
By the work of the Spirit (Jn 3:5; 2 Cor 3:6)?
By declaring with our mouths (Luke 12:8; Rom 10:9)? [A WORK]
By coming to a knowledge of the Truth (1 Tim 2:4; Heb 10:26)? [OUR ACHIEVEMENT]
By works (Rom 2:6, 7; James 2:24)?
By grace (Acts 15:11; Eph 2:8)?
By perseverance (Matt 10:22; Mk 13:13; Col 1:22-23)?
By his blood (Rom 5:9; Heb 9:22)?
By His righteousness (Rom 5:17; 2 Pet 1:1)?
By His cross (Eph 2:16; Col 2:14)?

I know the Catholic party line about faith and works from listening to your CD. My question above is outside of the typical party line and can most likely only be appreciated by someone with your background. Your response might help me deal with some of the less faithful Catholics (in greater proportion than any other group) that I come across from time to time.

I WOULD LOVE TO ASSIST YOU IF TIME ALLOWS. I HOPE MY RESPONSE IS HELPFUL TO ASSIST YOU IN UNDERSTANDING CATHOLICS. I MIGHT SUGGEST YOU GET MY BOOK “CROSSING THE TIBER” AND READ THE “CATECHISM” WHICH IS A MARVELOUS GIFT TO THE CHURCH. IT IS USED BY MANY PROTESTANT PASTORS IN PREPARING THEIR SERMONS :-)

DON’T EXPECT ALL CATHOLICS TO ALWAYS UNDERSTAND AND BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN THEIR FAITH, ANY MORE THAN I EXPECT TO FIND BAPTISTS WHO CAN EVEN COME CLOSE TO EXPLAINING THEIR BELIEFS. IT IS NOT THE COMPETENCE OR INCOMPETENCE OF THE PERSON THAT MATTERS BUT THE ACTUAL TRUTH ITSELF. I RESPECT YOU FOR SEEKING FOR IT.

GOD BLESS AND STAY LOVING AND SERVING OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

STEVE RAY

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I was organizing the 15,000 books in my Logos Bible Software program on my laptop and noticed this quote about the so-called “Rapture” as taught by many Evangelical Protestants. The Rapture is a new Protestant doctrine that was invented in the mid-1800’s in Scotland.

The recent novelty is mainly based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The following article taken from the popular Evangelical Protestant commentary – New International Biblical Commentary:

“When our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones: One scenario of the end time embraced by many Christians today sees a twofold return of Jesus: the first in secret to gather up the church, the second openly, following the tribulation (which, on this theory, only the world will endure) to judge the world.

The first return is called the Rapture, the second the Revelation. The Greek word from whose Latin equivalent (rapere) our word “rapture” is derived, is actually used by Paul in 4:17, “we … will be caught up” (but not, we believe in the sense of the modern theory; see discussion on 4:17 and 2 Thess. 2:1). The theory rests largely on a conclusion drawn from the verse before us. If Jesus is to come with his saints, it is argued, as this verse says he will, he must first have come for them. A number of other passages are enlisted to corroborate this scenario (e.g., Mark 13:27; Rev. 11:11f.), but none of them, and least of all 1 Thessalonians 3:13, can bear the weight of this interpretation.

“Some would even doubt that the holy ones refers to his saints; but allowing that it does (see the discussion), what more is Paul saying here than he says, for example, in 4:14? Paul wants to assure the Thessalonians that their dead will not be disadvantaged. They will be raised, the living will be transformed, and together, the living and the dead will “meet the Lord” and be “with the Lord forever” (4:16f.). The “all” of 3:13 is important. In anticipation of his fuller treatment in chapter 4, Paul casually indicates that all will be involved in the Parousia, but he says nothing more than that.

Besides reading too much into a passage dealing with other matters, the whole idea of the Rapture founders (1) on the fact that the church’s hope—based, we may believe, on Jesus’ own teaching—has from the outset been fixed upon his visible return (cf. 1 Cor. 1:7; Titus 2:13); and (2) on the language of 2 Thessalonians 2:1, where Paul speaks of “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him.” Paul used two nouns governed by the one definite article, which shows beyond question that he thought of the “coming” and the “gathering” as two facets of the one event.

In short, Christ’s Revelation [the 2nd Coming as taught by Scripture and the Catholic Church] is at one and the same time our Rapture.

(Williams, D. J. (1992). New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Thessalonians (68). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.)

In short, Catholics should not fall for, or be intimidated by this unbiblical “Rapture” idea. Protestants can’t even agree with each other on the matter and intelligent Protestants don’t accept it at all.

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Can You Spot the Errors?

by Steve Ray on January 29, 2018

This is a typical non-Catholic Creed. It was forwarded by a Catholic asking if they could/should agree with this creed in order to get a new job.

What do you think of this creed and could you sign onto it? If you think there are errors, what are they?

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Final Judgment based on “Faith Alone’?

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Multiplication of Loaves a Miracle or Just a Lesson in Sharing?

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When confronted with this at Mass a while ago I wrote a letter to the priest which became an article in Catholic Answers Magazine. Article HERE. The priest said there was no miracle when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish. All he did was teach selfish people to share and they pulled extra loaves and fish from […]

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When I was a kid, the “Sinner’s Prayer” was a big deal. It was at the heart of everything we knew about Jesus and getting saved. It was almost used as an incantation. My mom coached me to pray the Sinner’s Prayer when I was 4 years old. We knelt together in front of the […]

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Christmas Really Started at the Annunciation – my new favorite Annunciation artwork

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God became Man in Bethlehem, right? Nope, it was in Nazareth. By the time Mary arrived in Bethlehem to deliver Jesus he had already been human for nine months. At the Annunciation those first cells in Mary’s womb, to small to see with the human eye (though Elizabeth and John the Baptist recognized Him), were […]

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Mary’s Virginity: How Was Jesus Born?

December 22, 2017

Every time I am on the radio over Advent someone calls and asks if Jesus was born normally and naturally like other babies, or was he a miraculous birth–in other words, arriving in the world by avoiding the birth canal and without “opening the womb.” There are discussions and debates suggesting he miraculously appeared in Mary’s […]

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A Baptist Friend Asks: The Bible Says “All have sinned” so how can Mary be Immaculate?

December 8, 2017

A Southern Baptist writes: I am a Southern  Baptist who has a lot of respect for the Catholic faith. The Immaculate Conception is a hard concept for me. Does it also include the belief that Mary never sinned? How does that pass muster with Rom. 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the […]

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The Dark Side of Luther – by Steve Wood

November 22, 2017

The Dark Side of Luther  (View online version at Steve Woods site here)     This is the last of my newsletters responding to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I’m sending you some of the overlooked statements of Luther revealing his thoughts on Catholics, his claim to infallibility, and his hatred of the […]

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All Souls, Purgatory and Dirty China

November 2, 2017

Gus Llyod’s Reflection on Purgatory Today we celebrate the Feast of All Souls. It is the day we remember all the souls in Purgatory. Purgatory can be a controversial topic, and hard to explain. So, I would like to help you with that. Following is one of the chapters of A Minute in the Church […]

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Evangelicals Guide To Catholic View of Justification

October 14, 2017

Steve Wood was a Protestant pastor before converting to Catholicism and starting Dads.org. He has just published an excellent book “Grace & Justification: An Evangelicals Guide to Catholics Beliefs.” Steve latest newsletter summarizes some of his book and gives good insights — especially in this 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Revolt. Here is his newsletter […]

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Nine Truths about Purgatory: What Catholics Need to Know about Heaven’s Ante-room

September 10, 2017

Nine Truths about Purgatory: What Catholics need to know about the ‘anteroom of heaven’ By Emily Stimpson – OSV Newsweekly, 9/29/2013 (Steve Ray’s article on Purgatory HERE) Some fear it. Others hope for it. Some see it as proof of God’s mercy; others as testimony to God’s wrath. Many don’t know anything about it, while many […]

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Cardinal Burke Outlines Formal Correction of Pope Francis’ Teaching

August 17, 2017

Posted by Edward Pentin on Thursday Aug 17th, 2017 at 7:56 AM The former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura explains in a new interview how a correction on parts of the Holy Father’s magisterium would be enacted, pays tribute to the recently deceased Cardinal Meisner, and stresses the importance of true mercy. In a new […]

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The Bible out of Context: “Saved by Faith Alone”?

July 4, 2017

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it. or put otherwise, A text without a context is a pretext. I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and […]

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