There is a difference between Protestant and Catholic. A BIG difference that I see many people trying to downplay. We have so many theological points we agree on, but how we get to them is vastly different.
Lately I have been watching realcatholictv.com. I absolutely love it. Michael Voris is the man!! Awesome. (For the really good stuff you have to pay a measly $10 a month for Premium membership, but well, well worth it for anyone who is Catholic or is interested in Catholicism.)
However... (and this is certainly not a criticism of Michael Voris, but he simply reminded me of what I have wanted to tell Catholics since starting RCIA)...
Bridging the gap between a Catholic and Protestant worldview.... whew... that is a monumental task, full of misunderstandings.
Let me give you a for instance.
About “assurance of salvation.”
Catholic teach against saying you are “saved.” And with their perspective it is a perfectly Biblical and truthful way of seeing things. However, Catholics need to step into a Protestant worldview and they will understand how vital this doctrine for spiritual survival.
Let me start with a visual. Protestants are holding onto a thin rope that reaches into heaven and that is their only connection to God. This rope is their assurance that God loves them, that God is there for them, that God is going to protect them and keep them safe from the Devil. This rope is their only hope!
Joe Blow Fundamentalist is certain that God is indifferent (or worse) to those who have not had a born-again experience. (Some denominations teach God loves them but still is impotent to save them...) Those without a relationship with Christ “in their hearts” are children of wrath. Nothing they can or will ever do--no matter how good-- will please God. Their righteousness is as filthy rags. They are without hope and destined for eternal damnation until they “gets saved.” Baptism does nothing more than make a public announcement that a person has been born again. Protestant parents do everything possible to get their children and other loved ones “saved.” For it is in that experiential miracle, that great “aha” cosmic event of grace, that they know God loves them. That is their proof moment (like a proof-text). Their greatest fears, their eternal self-hatred ceases and they can know--know--that they are no longer a child of wrath.
They have nothing else. They don’t have a community of faith that reaches back to the Apostles and into the heavens. They don’t have real sacraments--only lifeless simulations, imitating symbols. They don’t have Peter. For a Protestant it is just Jesus and me. They have nothing tangible--no relics, no rites. You cannot and should not try and cut that rope of assurance and connection with Christ.
You see they cling to the rope with all their heart and soul. It is their sabbath rest.
“Jesus loves me this I know. Now my life has meaning. Now I am loved....”
To a Protestant--the Kingdom of God is still yet to come... an actual community with structure--that is simply not going to happen till Christ comes again. They do not live with the idea that there is an actual kingdom--organization--community. They cannot rely on anyone or anything. They have no exterior backup. They will argue that they have their church--but that, I assure you in their minds, does not have the weight, the gravitas of the actual Kingdom that goes straight back to Jesus himself. They take comfort in a tiny island of misfit toys awaiting Santa Claus. They do not have a powerful kingdom to give them comfort--truth--clarity. Everything for a Protestant is dependent on a future security... all they have today is a hope.... an assurance that one day, they will be safely in the Kingdom.
To attempt convincing them they can’t know they are saved and proving it with Bible texts is not the avenue to their souls and understanding. When someone is clinging to a spiritual rope, telling them the rope is weak, stupid.... unbiblical--- well, don’t go that route.
Instead, describe the rock, the foundation. Describe how Peter was given the keys of the Kingdom. Spend your time--not arguing the validity of the rope--but the incredible safety of the rock!
Baptism is it!! Baptism is entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. From that point on you are in, you are no longer a child of wrath, but a child destined for salvation. You are a part of a vast Christian family that extends from heaven into purgatory. This Cosmos of love ushers you into the safety of God’s sheep fold. It’s gates are strong, it’s walls are vast and indestructible and high! Protestants need security.
Talk about the community of those in heaven who constantly pray for our souls and their faith combines with ours to make ours strong and vital and perfect! In Catholicism you are never alone. You have Mary and the saints who have had two millennia of showing us the way to Jesus.
Talk about the sealing of the spirit through anointing and consecration.
Show them that in the ancient church, God has many, many shepherds He has placed in command. These priest-heroes have given up the comfort of wife and family to rescue His lost sheep if they stray. They are there to give the comfort and security of the sacrament of reconciliation. Talk about the Eucharist as the heavenly manna, the bread of immortality and the receiving of the divine life.
Talk about the safety of the Kingdom of Heaven.
For when you do you are not cutting their rope, but you are saying “POINT YOUR TOES!!”
For when they point their toes, the Christian hanging desperately onto the rope will find that right below their feet--an inch or two--is the ROCK of our salvation. The foundation of the Kingdom of Heaven. Eventually when they get their bearings, when they begin to trust the rock of Catholicism, they will let go of the rope. They will know their souls are safe inside the sheepfold.
Don’t panic theologians! I am not saying teach them the once-saved-always-saved doctrine. Tell them--if they really want--they can leave.... God will not bolt the door so they cannot ever go against Him. Even as a child of God, we can choose to leave.
Often I get the feeling Catholics see the idea of assurance-of-eternal-life as giving license to Protestants to go out and do what they want, haughtily dismissing sin as irrelevant--the whole Lutheran “sin with gusto” thing. This is truly not the case for the vast amount of Protestants.
Many Protestants have spent their entire lives in crushing torment over being the child of wrath, the lowest of the low, a sinner in need of a Savior, whose only hope was in the little phrase “blessed assurance.” They are told that it only takes faith and God will accept you and love you. With faith, the former child of wrath can walk in confidence knowing he is a member of the household of God. For the first time, they have joy and begin experiencing the gospel of peace.
They need to be treated with the kindest of intentions. Catholics needs to be even more nurturing. Show them the beauties and infinite mercy found in the treasury of faith of Catholicism. Show them inside the Kingdom of God, there is no fear, but immeasurable grace.