Why Theology Matters

Last Sunday I had a meeting with a large church network here in my community.  Present were 36 of the most influential pastors in my community and Christian community leaders.  Our discussion was around a citywide event where we plan to unite the Christian community with the city to plan a day of helping those who are less fortunate.  As we spoke one of the leaders asked when we will be contacting the Roman Catholic church to let them in on the event.  She wants Rome to be present in the prayer tent as well as acting as a resource to point people to for spiritual leadership.  To my amazement, the 36 most influential pastors in my city agreed completely with her assessment and a decision was made to invite Roman Catholics to participate in the event.  I was the lone opposition to this decision and was quite frankly disgusted with the level of ignorance of my Christian brothers and sisters as it comes to the theology of Rome.  In an attempt to insure that my readers are more educated than the spiritual pillars of my community, I thought I would let you read my resignation letter to the group.  I hope that it help for you to better understand the dividing line between us and Rome.

_____________________________________________

I am unable to separate a person’s practical needs from their spiritual needs.  Frankly, spiritual needs are the most practical need of all as it provides us with eternal life and I see nothing more important than that.  I understand that in the context of the event you are using the word differently.  Practical meaning tangible and spiritual meaning intangible and I think people generally get your meaning.   I relish the opportunity to reach the people of our city in meeting their tangible needs, but not at the sacrifice of their spiritual ones and I fear that’s what is going to occur.

As mentioned in the meeting today we will be locking arms with Roman Catholics to meet the spiritual needs of the people at the event.  As I stated, I have no issue with Roman Catholics helping in tangible areas, nor would I have any issue with anyone of any faith meeting the tangible needs of people.  It’s the right thing to do.  Blessing our community is far overdue and I am happy to see that happening.  However, pointing people to the false gospel of Rome is crossing the line (Martin Luther called it the dividing line).  I am not willing to cross this line or be part of any event that does.  Accusing Roman Catholics of having a false gospel is more than bold so let me take a moment and explain how I came to that conclusion.

Rome Rejects the Bible as the only authoritative word of God and replaces it with papal infallibility.  The Pope is the only authority to interpret scripture and everything he says from the throne (ex-cathedra) is without error and dogmatic.  His word superseded the clear teaching of the scriptures and most of Roman Catholic theology is based on dogma and not scripture.  I believe that scripture is the sole and infallible word of God.

Rome venerates Mary.  Mary is the mediator between us and Christ (through the Priest). She also holds the title of being immaculately conceived (meaning she was born of the virgin), co-redeemer (meaning she redeems peoples souls) and was bodily assumed (meaning she never died).  These are, of course, the same characteristics that the God Man Jesus has.  Rome has created a Female God in Mary and openly worships her on a daily basis.  I believe in worship of God alone to His glory unshared by another.

The priest holds the title of Ultra Christos or another Christ.  The priest holds the power to re-crucify Jesus every Sunday during communion (the Eucharist).  The priest calls Jesus into the bread and wine and Jesus must be re-crucified for the sins of humanity.  This is far different from the words of Jesus on the cross where he states that “it is finished” speaking specifically of the atoning work of the cross.  Rome rejects the atoning work of the cross by turning it into something that must be done over and over again for new sins.  In other words Jesus’ death only atoned for the sins of those alive at that moment.  He did nothing for my sins or yours. Those sins are atoned from week to week.  I believe that Jesus died once for the sins of His people (the faithful) and has declared us justified once and for all.

Grace, in Rome, is a tangible thing that is completely dependent on man to achieve.  It’s a bank account that, when you have enough grace in the account you are saved.  When your grace runs dry through sin you must complete the sacraments to get more of it.  Penance, Eucharist and indulgences (giving money to the church) are the most common ways of achieving this.  This is an affront to the Gospel of Jesus which clearly states that man is saved through grace alone through faith alone and not by works.   In Roman Catholic theology God does not save.  He only provides the opportunity to be saved for a certain period of time. It is man who saves himself over and over again through his works.  I believe in grace as described in the bible as unmerited favor.  Rome believes in merited favor.

As you can see, there is a large divide between Roman Catholicism and my faith and the orthodox faith that is today called Protestantism.  In fact we have more divisions than commonality when it comes to spiritual things.  The only thing we really agree on is the trinity and though this is important it isn’t sufficient enough to warrant embracing Roman Catholics as my brothers in Christ.   I am in no way stating that I hate Roman Catholics, I am saying that they need the gospel as much as anybody else and locking arms with them and sending people to their churches goes against the very reason why our church exists in the first place.  It would be good for all of us to stand on the shoulders of the 14 million plus people who died during the reformation for the sake of the true gospel.  These people thought the division between Rome and Protestantism made a difference and quite frankly, so do I.

With that said, considering this revelation at today’s meeting,  I cannot in good consciousness proceed in leadership in the event.  I wish you all the best of luck but I am just not the guy to help lead people in spiritual need to a church with an un-saving gospel and it is my fear that this will be the outcome.  As stated at the event “Most of the people who attend are going to be Hispanic and have knowledge of Roman Catholicism.  They aren’t going to go to a protestant church so it makes sense to send them to the Holy Mother down the street”.  That is an entirely true statement since 99% of Latin American people claim to be Roman Catholic.  All this says to me is that the church, any church, does not save. Jesus is the savior and if the Holy Spirit is truly in the hearts of those we are reaching then they will desire to be in a healthy church, not just one that they know.   If we are simply acting as directors not focused on the gospel of Jesus but accommodating people based on what they prefer why stop with Christianity?  We are simply directing people to their most tasty flavor of ice cream.  Why not include all religious worldviews and we can simply reunite the lost with their flavor of choice.  Of course this is ridiculous and out of the question, but for some reason the false gospel of Rome gets a pass and I don’t get it. Getting people to know Jesus is not enough contrary to the feedback I received during the meeting.  The bible says that the demons know Jesus and shutter in his presence. People need the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and that is simply not provided by Roman Catholic doctrine. I am not saying that Roman Catholics can’t be saved, what I am saving is that Roman Catholic doctrine does not save and Roman Catholics need the true gospel. I am eager to give it to them with gentleness and respect that shows the knowledge, wisdom and character that a Christian should have.

 I hope you can understand my decision to step out of this event.

________________________________________

I should note that by the grace of God the church leaders relented on the decision to allow Roman Catholics to have participation in the event and I am in the process of deciding if I will continue with leadership.  The bigger issue is why was a 38 year old Christian of ten years able to see these things while the pastors who have been preaching for longer then I have been alive don’t know it?  I think the answer to this is two fold.  First, poor theology leads to poor theological decisions.  Most every church present rejects the doctrines of grace.  When you see man as being at the center of salvation you start to make decision based on how many numbers you can attract instead of how you can glorify God.  Including the Roman Catholic church means more money for the event and more people to attend.  Secondly, without the doctrines of grace, you are left with a water down gospel that is really not that far away from Roman Catholic theology.  If the gospel is nothing more than the story of Jesus’ life, and salvation is nothing more than believing in Jesus then Rome is in. However, if you believe that it requires regeneration of the heart and repentance, then they are not.  So though these pastors would call themselves Christian Churches, they are really Pseudo-protestant  churches with a set of standards where ecumenicism is the ultimate authority over the clear teaching of scripture.

I will keep you all posted as this fight continues…

Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: