I just finished listening to a “debate” between members of the current apologists of “Catholics and Evangelicals Together,” a movement spear-headed in the nineties as the next phase of the so-called, “Ecumenical Movement” .
One speaker was a convert to Catholicism from Protestantism, another, a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, and a third, an Anglican/Evangelical. They each described themselves as “left-brainers” (linear/logical/analytical thinkers), and each sport quite a few letters after their names. Nevertheless—or perhaps because of—their study and training, they all praised the movement cited above as a good thing because it can unite Christians of disparate denominations by focusing on the essentials of a common faith while agreeing to disagree on non-essentials.
But, gentlemen of the debate, should you read this, it’s those non-essentials that can, like bad yeast, spoil the whole loaf.
Granted, there is a little bit of truth in every genre of belief system, Christian or not; on that, we can rely. However, having come from an intensely Roman Catholic background (twelve years Catholic education, and reared in adherence to all the rites and rituals of family and home life as well) I believe we are amiss if we don’t regard the underpinnings of the religious system, Catholicism, with whom some are now “in community,” not just the seeming surface similarities. Some of the beliefs are the same, but others are really not the same. Things can look pretty good on the surface, but they may only seem so.
I believe we run great risk in the quest for unity on a few essentials we do agree with if some of the non-essential realities/teachings/breaks with classic Christianity, in all the power and prestige of their intellectual and/or spiritual power to seduce, are regarded nowadays as merely “divisive.” Because, friends, the yeast still permeates the hearer, the participator, within the intricacies of heart, mind, soul, and spirit and might result in unintended consequences. And it’s those non-essentials that can cause considerable “spiritual collateral damage,” as it were.
A dollop of experiential leaven here (a la old, Catholic mysticism re-packaged as the “contemplative” prayer movement, now in vogue) and one believer is off into some, in reality, New Age nirvana. A skosh of Roman Catholic “tradition” there (of an add-on variety such as a new regard for Jesus’ mother Mary, her “immaculate conception” having been decided upon by Catholic intellectuals as recently as the mid-nineteenth century) and another believer is drawn to adding another mediator, that is, Mediatrix to the Gospel. Or, a hint of a new hierarchical structure in some other corner of Christendom (speaks for itself) and yet another believer forgets that there is only One Who heads the Body of Christ…
But the power of words is seductive. Isn’t “unity” good, “division,” bad? Are we not supposed to “judge not” lest we be judged—by God?
This thinking (albeit truncated) makes so much sense! And if the people with all the letters after their names are telling us it’s so, it must be. Don’t they know more? Isn’t “left brainism” superior to “right brainism?” Aren’t intellectuals somehow better/more knowledgeable than the rest of us? They certainly hold most of the power positions. And they speak so well…
The power of words, of course, is well known and well regarded. I teach rhetoric. There are all kinds of artful, clever, and skillful ways to craft language to sway thought and incite action. Results can be both good and bad. Consider the results of the great orators who by their words inspire us to become the best we can be. On the other hand, consider the spinners, the verbal artificers, the seducers, the con artists. They use words well, too.
Am I saying that people who subscribe to the new ecumenical push are all con artists? No, certainly not, because I reject the false dichotomy to begin with, while at the same time keeping in mind the spirit of anti-christ who has been continually at work in the world.
In fact, I think there is an entirely and completely different “unity” at work, here; one that transcends all humans can do on our own steam in the quest to understand spirituality.
Granted, some of us come to this other unity through intellectual, “left brain” pursuits, others, through more creative, “right brain” investigations (so-called “linear” and “global” thinkers as this particular theory defines the groups). Still others come to it through emotional hunger, others through spiritual “awareness,” and still others due to Divine intervention of some kind (consider the circumstances of St. Paul’s conversion). So, there is some value in debates, investigations, experiences, studies and so on.
But, and here is my point: the unity I reference is not man-designed at all. I believe the end-all of the effort we put forth is not engineered in ivy halls, experiences, traditions, translations, hierarchies, creative or logical pursuits.
The unity I reference doesn’t necessarily come in polished words or sterling talent or shining intelligence, nor does it come as a product of humbler circumstances or intellect. It isn’t found more in one thinking propensity or another, one gender or another, one station in life or another, or any other category of human belief or endeavor. And it doesn’t evolve.
It is found in the unity that occurs through grace, by faith (that, a gift of God) in the only Way, Truth, and Life: Jesus Christ.
Although we come to Him from myriad places physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually, His Body, that is, the Christian church, is united—by Him. In Christ Jesus, and Him alone, we are one.
I fear that if we forget that ultimate truth, we risk being seduced by the window dressing of religious pomp and circumstance, the allure of “presentations” (real, intellectual, or assumed), the yeast of doctrinal “add-ons” from high places that may tragically, in the end, divert our attention away from that “dark glass” that must needs inspire us to keep as close to Christ as we can so that by His power at work in us and our yielding to it, we indeed remain “one”.
Fortunately, the same Word of God that on the one hand can suffer so many perhaps unintentional—but also intentional—twists and turns in the mouths of men and women is still “…alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, (penetrating) even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart“ (Hebrews 4:12). It continues to be a source on which we can rely.
Here are some truths that gently brought—and continue to bring—me out of my own spiritual quest through all the usual avenues of human effort right to the feet of Christ where I congregate, united in Him, with other believers from every tribe, tongue, and era:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).
For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (I Corinthians 1:22-25).
By grace saved; by same, united.
 For more information on this topic, here is a good starter reference. The researcher is encouraged to go further by reviewing the scholarly critiques by Christian apologists, some of whom are cited in this introductory piece: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicals_and_Catholics_Together
NOTE: For a comprehensive primer on what Catholics still believe today, here is a good site: http://www.catholic.com/
P.S. Here is one my own “ministry underpinnings,” if you will, that I share today with you in hopes that you, too, are edified and encouraged to draw closer to Jesus Christ:
Give us, a child, before their 7, and we will own them, for LIFE!
Is that Not, what the Communist proclaim?
The Jesuits, have set up many College’s, and Universities, in the United States, to indoctrinate the youth to their ideology !
Very smart, tactic, especially, to learn Protestants away, from their Biblical Doctrines!
Correction: 2 BILLION
Correction: (seems to be the day for them, guys) I meant to write that none of is is infallible and instead wrote that we are all infallible. That is so not true! Sorry about that.
BTW Phyllis another beautiful photo header. That photographer is very talented 🙂
“I fear that if we forget that ultimate truth…” Is among the best, longest, sentences I’ve had the pleasure to read! And the conversation this article has ignited! I can’t wait to read them all. Thank you!
I agree wholeheartedly that our unity as believers is spiritually generated through God the Holy Spirit. It is He who is the giver of that gift of faith and all good things spiritual including love. The core issue is that most who call themselves Christians don’t have a clue what it means to be led or taught by Him. This leads to reliance on man and his intellect and all those letters following these people’s names that you sort of reference. Those academically bestowed letters are meaningless without the essential spiritually-generated God connection.
I have commented previously that all denominations (and, yes Catholic brothers and sisters, that includes you!) are various mixtures of spiritual truth, spiritual error and doctrines of men. Jesus will fix all that when He returns in power and glory to place us all into His church, which is filled with pure spiritual truth alone. Until then, the best we believers can do is ask God to guide us into His truth and fill us with it. We need to focus on the simplicity that is Christ and leave the complexity that is man and his system behind.
I would like to share that God has led me to see that the current pope is indeed a man of God. He is flawed like the rest of us, but he has a true loving perspective and humility that I can’t recall in that fellowship since the 1960’s. His focus is on the poor and those that can’t provide for themselves. I believe Christ will include him in the sheep group in Matthew 25:34-40.
Have no fellowship, with the Bad Fruit Darkness….but Expose them!
Look for, an Angel Of Light, to Decieve, even the Elect!
Sheep in Wolves Clothing! (Looks like a Lamb)
Mystery Babylon The Great, Mother ( Church) of all Harlots (Unfaithful) and Abominations (too many, to count!)
Woe, to the Christian Apologist, who has been Blinded, by the Roman Church!
It can be frustrating at times to explain that much that has come to us through Roman Catholicism is not Biblical nor does it represent what was taught in the early Church. However, do you remember how long it took you to fully comprehend the difference? For many former Catholics, it can be a lengthy process as they grow in the grace of Jesus Christ. I try to keep this in mind when communicating with those still caught up in the system, and those who have limited experience and/or knowledge of it. I am still grateful that while I was yet in that religion, God was patient with me. It took me a full six years of hard work, study, and prayer after my salvation to come out. And so I think of other believers who might yet be processing through, and a big part of that, depending upon how long one was involved, is a grieving process.
Thank you for reading the post. And, yes, Pope Francis does seem like a nice, Godly man.
May I explain, however, just a few of the issues that many Christians, particularly former Roman Catholics, find very troublesome about him?
Although Francis does seem much removed from the kind of pontiff who would pronounce, say, “anathema” on non-Catholic believers (see: Council of Trent ca 1435), he has not retracted or renounced that condemnation.
Although he does seem much removed from the kind of exclusivity expressed by a pope who believes he speaks “ex cathedra,” i.e., “infallibly” (as if God) on faith and morals (ca 1870) , Francis and his predecessors have failed to explain where this thinking is found in the Scriptures and in the early church.
Although he does seem much removed from the seeming “judgmental” tone of those who understand that the God of Islam is not the God of Judeo-Christianity when he (Francis) speaks of that belief system thus: “We must never forget that they ‘profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day’” , moderate and former Muslims explain this is clearly not the case.
Although Francis does seem much removed from the kind of heartless pope who would not grant young believers indulgences just because they could not attend last year’s World Youth Day in Rio therefore he arranged indulgences via social media , teaching on this practice is nowhere found in Scripture or in the early church.
Pope Francis does seem like a nice guy. He presents as an “everyman” who just wants to spread God’s love. He has a rhetorical ease and humble aspect that impress many.
But a closer look at his words, actions—or lack thereof—and the institution he heads reveals great cause for concern. Indeed, by his words and actions there are some who believe he is even helping set the stage for the one world religious system.
Phyllis, contrary to Catholic doctrine regarding popes, we are all infallible. I don’t agree with everything he says and does but do wholeheartedly support His following Jesus and being love to those He sends across his path.
Indulgences is a Catholic denominational doctrine of men and does not appear in scripture.
Regarding the one world religion, it remains to be seen how that plays out. From what God leads me to see in scripture, it is the beast who oversees its creation. The theme of unity is not unique to the Catholic denomination. Conceptually, it exists in other denominations as well. Witness Rick Warren’s misguided Chislam.
All we can do is our best and follow God the Holy Spirit’s lead. He will convict us of truth and keep us from error. I do point out that even if we do err with a right attitude, that error can and will be forgiven.
A while back, God led me to write a post regarding spiritual expectations and ask the question: If thiings don’t happen the way you hoped and expected, will you still be God’s? That’s what matters.
Let’s hold fast to the simplicity that is Christ. He will restore all things, and that includes spiritual error and doctrines of men, when He returns in power and glory.
I do appreciate your explaining your perspective and pray that it gives you comfort that God, and Jesus is God, has everything covered.
Hope that helps,
Sharon, oops on the inversion of “counselorpastor” in my reply. lol!
Phyllis, that’s such a small thing. No biggie!
Hugs and blessings,
Francis is not only setting the stage, for a One World Religion! He plans to Synthesize ALL False Religions, into the ROMAN Catholic Church!!
2 Thessalonians 2:22…all that don’t believe in Jesus( Christ, the Son of God) are Anti Christ!
Jesus, was not a Prophet! Christ is God! ( as Islam states!)
Universal Salvation, without Christ, is False Demonic Teaching!
Oh, he is extremely “Nice and Humble”….he is Decieving, the World, with a “Different Gospel!”
An Angel Of Light….do you think, that the AC, will show himself as “Evil and Mean?”
This Message was directed, at those Gullable, Duped, by Satan, and his Counterfeit Trinity!
P, your NOT one of Them! Hust the opposite—Born Again, Child Of God!
We must help, the disillusioned, not to be a “Victim of the Wicked Snare!”
Cathy, I forgot to mention in my previous response that part of the reason for the length of the grieving process experienced coming out of Roman Catholicism is most likely the all-pervasive control exerted on Catholics, i.e., the spiritual, mental, emotional, familial, and social control exerted via extra- and non-biblical decree, dogma, and “tradition”.
I think you grew up the same way, too. You may remember the old Jesuit saying, “give us a child until he is seven and we have him for life”?! (In my own recovery, I have often thought, “but they know not the power of God.”)
There is a reason certain well known despots as well as mind-control experts have closely studied the Jesuit methods.
When one understands this, it is part of the “exit process,” so to speak, to experience the anger phase of grief! I feel your frustration. However, it has helped me the, now, over 40 years since I became a Christian, the first six years spent concurrently “coming out” of Roman Catholic control, to remember God is patient with us and meets each of us exactly where we are. We may yet be in the control of man on one level or another, but God is more powerful
Whether or not Francis is the AC, as you put it, a type of same, or just another believer on his way to the same clarity available to us all by faith through grace, is known only to God. In the meantime, as my fellowship group and I often tell each other in these hectic days, “God remains calm.”
NOTE: but of course “saved and processing out of the control of a religious system” is NOT the same thing as “all belief systems lead to God.” We need to keep a discerning eye on the wordsmiths and, the “emotion and mindsmiths,” so to speak, as well.
Peace (and calm) to you!
I have, the Peace of God, by knowing, we are Justified through Faith…..not anything, we do!!!
Jesuits believe “There is no truth, all is allowed!” a Lie…. Jesus is the Truth, the Way and the Life!
They, have been working their “CounterReformation, for centuries! The Jesuiys are the chief Defender, of the Papal System !!!
As a RC, you are to Submit your Will and Intellect over to the Pope.
This is, “Serious Mind Control”.
WHY oh WHY, can they NOT SEE, they ( Inelliget and Many 2nillion strong) that they are under, what used to be called “Priestcraft” before, the Modern World became “PC!”
I apologize, if Offending anyone, but I am trying to Alert those, that are Blinded, by the Mother!
Pope Francis, may not know , he is being, used ,by the “Red Dragon!” That is Gods judgement Call!
This is Not Christs Church…..They teach a different Gospel! ( too many Redeemers and Mediators to God!)
The ppl of the World, look to the Pope, as the Supreme Leader, of the Church of Jesus Christ….Vicar Of Christ, he is Substitute for Christ himself! Not Me, Christ, will Always Be The HEAD!
Thankful he ,left the Holy Spirit, to us to Guide us, on Pentecost!!!!
1 John 2:22
Only to be exposed once the ‘sheep’s clothing has been removed I feel.
Beware of Vain Philosophies Of MAN- Colossians 2:8!
This is Intellectual Idolatry!
The Father of Lies, has been working through, the likes of Bishop Tony Palmer, through BIG NAME, Evangelical leader Kennth Copeland Ministeries….to Spread the UNITY message!
No regard for Doctrines…We are One, the way Christ Intended!
Do we accept, Doctrines Of Demons, in the Name of Unity?
Have .no Fellowhip with the Bad Fruits of Darkness, but EXPOSE IT! ( Like, you do, in your Devotional!)
I am afraid, MANY, will be Decieved, and drawn back, to Rome!
The Evangelicals blame, the New Agers, but that is just “A Means to the End” ….the Real Culprit in, the mission, to bring back, the Separated Brethren: Jesuit Order via the RCC!
WHO is Pope Francis=A Jesuit
Jesus WARNED us, Matthew 24 of DECEPTION and False Christs!
Look Around….It Is Here! It has been here, since Paul’s Time and the Little Horn Power, after, The Fall Of The Roman Empire!
Many Blessings and LOOK UP, The King Is Coming!
Cathy, I appreciate your straightforward replies, and agree that RCC should be exposed. I believe Jesus is calling His people to come out of her and in our day providing ample clear direction. Shalom