Monday, March 2, 2015

Can I Keep Going to A Catholic Church After I'm Saved?

I figured I'd try to phrase this title to respond to Google searches.

Elizabeth Prata has made a number of posts the last few months to remind everyone that it's unwise to call people in different religions (Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, Copts) "brothers in Christ" just because they claim to follow Jesus.

Push-back on this is inevitable. In the comments to this article about evangelicals being too comfortable with Rome, someone disputed a claim Elizabeth made in the article, that anyone who is truly saved will cease and desist attending Roman Catholic churches, and that staying put inside such a church is evidence that a person is not saved. The commentor (Glenn) said that she shouldn't/couldn't say that, because he's known people who have been saved in RC churches and continued attending for some time.

I piped up and gave my synthesis. The whole comment thread is at the link above. My comment is reproduced below.

"So when you read "Catholics are not saved" understand that the lengthier version is "Any Catholic individual who believes and accepts the dogmas of Rome are not saved.""

That directly addressed Glenn's stated concern, as I understand it.

As for people remaining or leaving an RCC church, understand that it's a process. I have a friend who was saved out of RCism. For some time she had been going with her family (still living under their roof) to their RCC regularly. She's been continually growing in understanding of doctrines such as submission, etc, and about a year ago informed her parents that she would not go with them any longer. Her concern may have originally been that participation would aid her ability to witness to them, and demonstrate child-parent submission, but eventually it became clear that she could not appear to support what she knew was damnable teaching. Neither I nor anyone else persuaded her to refuse to go to mass. She came to that conclusion herself as a result of the process of sanctification: regularly studying the Scriptures and having her understanding thereof illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

And I think that's what Elizabeth's saying. I condone her forceful statements with respect to people who are truly saved by necessity leaving the RC church they're in. To speak in terms of gray rather than black and white is not helpful, and mitigates the perception of the seriousness of the issue. 

I don't believe Elizabeth would insist on a strict timeline, that if someone goes to mass with their family a few times after believing on Christ, that their profession of faith is insincere. But as with showing spiritual fruit, it is something that is Biblically inevitable. If they never leave, then it shows that their conscience was never provoked by it, and that is evidence of the lack of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So someone who is saved WILL leave a heretical church.

The difference in how long that takes is a function of their obedience, gain of Scriptural wisdom, and the Holy Spirit's prerogative in sanctifying their desires. But I daresay someone who stays many years is evidencing severe disobedience, doctrinal error, and most likely that they simply didn't receive the Gospel message in truth.

Reading what you two are writing, it doesn't seem you're fundamentally opposed, but the disagreement is over what way is appropriate to define the matter.

In that regard, I 'take Elizabeth's side,' because my major premise is that those who are truly saved will not lose their salvation if they risk being offended by her words. And those who are not saved need to know that being in an RCC church is Biblically unacceptable and they are in danger of hell. And i both cases, those still in an RC church are in need of being convicted in their souls. And conviction comes by the Holy Spirit through hard truths (truths you agree to in letter, Glenn), not by giving every single condition every time you make a statement, and thereby dulling the emphasis off of everything said.

~ Rak Chazak

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