Expert Answer Forum

Catholicism QUESTION from Brady Preston June 27, 2000 Good morning/afternoon/evening,
I am going to make this short, but percise and to the point:
My domination is United Baptist - thus, I do not believe in such things that catholics do. Does that mean I am going to hell because I do not follow whats correct in your eyes? (i.e. Mary's role in your domination).
I was also wondering your perspective on this : Us (general christians) are seperated by mere Tiles (i.e. Catholic) and minor diversities in beliefs. How would one go about to decipher which suits the way of the bible? In your eyes, what domination is closest to the truth? - since, truth does literally set us free.
What is your own defination of being a PURE Christian?
Thank you, and God bless thy.
Brady Preston
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on July 27, 2000 Dear Mr. Preston:
No, your not accepting Catholic doctrine does not mean you are going to hell. While it is true that God says that believing in ALL that He teaches, and partaking of His Sacraments are required for salvation (and only the Catholic Church has ALL of Christ's teaching and Sacraments), those, through no fault of their own do not believe this may be saved through God's mercy according to that which they do know in their quest for God.
This is called Invincible Ignorance. A person who is genuinely and sincerely ignorant of the truth of God's teaching as given to His Church -- the Catholic Church -- is not held responsible for that knowledge.
In other words, God will judge you according to what you do believe and how well you live up to what you say your believe, and according to natural law, and according to that knowledge that is written on all hearts by God.
So, you may still be saved even though not a card-carrying Catholic.
But the ignorance must be genuine. A person who has been convinced of the Truth of the Catholic Teaching and then rejects it, would risk hell.
You ask: Us Christians are seperated by mere Tiles (i.e. Catholic) and minor diversities in beliefs.
No this is not true. While there are MANY similarities, in fact more similarities than differences between Catholic and your Baptist faith, some differences are CRITICAL and MAJOR. Most of the difference might be rather minor, but the Jesus' Teaching on the Eucharist is CRITICAL AND CENTRAL.
You ask, How would one go about to decipher which suits the way of the bible?
The Bible must be approached from a literal/historical/critical/spiritual interpretative method. No other method will render an accurate rendering of Scripture.
The Catholic Church is the only church on the planet that truly interprets the Bible according to this method. All denominations(the Catholic Church is NOT a denomination, by the way) either use problematic interpretive methods, or fudge on the L/H/C/S method when things get too close to proving Catholic Doctrine.
But, even with the use of reason, and the use of the L/H/C/S, we can still have differences in opinion about the interpretation. How can honest scholars who disagree come to a resolution?
Jesus did not leave us without an authority to decide once-and-for-all the disputes in the faith. It would have been cruel indeed for God to leave us without an authority who could definitively decide what's what.
God has ALWAYS provided such an authority. For example, there was Abraham, the prophets and Moses. Moses was the pope of the Old Testament. Pope is a word actually used in the Bible to refer to the head of the Church. The Chair of Moses was the Old Testament magisterium. The concept of a Pope and Magisterium was NOT invented by the Catholic Church. It was invented by God, and practiced in high level by Moses. The Chair of Moses is mentioned by Jesus Himself in the Bible.
Jesus continued the Magisterium when He commission the New Covenant. God had ALWAYS had a magisterium. The New Covenant would have its magisterium. This time instead of based on the Chair of Moses, the new magisterium would be and is based on the Chair of Peter.
A Magisterium is a body of men appointed by God to be the authority to protect the faith and morals of God's people through teaching, preaching, and discipline.
Thus the Magisterium, as the official interpretor of Scripture must be consulted for the final call.
If we don't have a magisterium (a Supreme Court) to make the final call on interpretation we have a problem with opinions taking over and we will end up with 25,000 different churches -- which is exactly what has happened).
You ask, In your eyes, what domination is closest to the truth? - since, truth does literally set us free.
In the eyes of God, not my eyes which are worthless, the CHURCH is the pillar and foundation of Truth (1 Tim 3:15) and that Church is that which rests upon the rock that is the Chair of Peter, which rest upon the larger rock that is Christ.
The according to the Bible and to God, the Catholic Church is not only closest to the Truth, it is the pillar and foundation of Truth, and not only that, it is the FULLNESS of the Truth.
No denomination can claim that.
You ask, What is your own definition of being a PURE Christian?
A Christian is a person who is baptized with water in the proper form and with the Trinitarian Formula.
Further the Christian grows in faith and affirms that faith personally in confirmation (or also in baptism if baptized an adult), believes what Christians believe (minimally that which is listed in the Apostles Creed), and then lives out that faith and belief. (faith without works is dead; justification is NOT by faith alone -- St. James)
A Christian who lives the FULLNESS of the Faith -- that is lives and believes according to ALL that Jesus and the Apostles taught, who lives and believes according to the ALL of God's Word, the WHOLE of God's Word (which is more than the Bible, according to the Bible), and who submits in obedience and loyalty to the God appointed spokesman, the Prime Minister of the Church, the Pope... that person is in the fullness of the Faith and is all that a Christian can be.
God Bless.
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