Posted by Gary on July 24, 2007
Recently Pope Benedict XVI approved a declaration that asserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and asserted that only Catholicism provides the true path to salvation. Orthodox churches are recognized as churches but suffer a “defect” because they do not recognize the primacy of the pope. Protestant churches are considered “ecclesial communities” but cannot be considered churches nor do they have the “means of salvation”. (See full article here).
For my part, I am glad that this long held position has been brought to the fore through the publication of this document. Enough of the “Whatever works for you” mindset of the last 75 years. Not everything can be true. In particular, doctrines that directly contradict one another cannot both be true no matter how sincere the adherents of each doctrine are.
It was with a sense of wonder though that I read another article about a particular element of the Latin Mass that will soon be reinstituted in the Catholic Church. Traditionally on Good Friday a prayer for the conversion of the Jews has been offered. Many Jewish groups have communicated their displeasure at the prospect of the revival of this prayer. While planning to move ahead, the Vatican has suggested that a study could be conducted and held forth the possibility that the prayer could be removed, “This could be decided and this would resolve all the problems,” said Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is the most senior official in the Vatican after the pope. (See full article here).
If Catholicism alone teaches the true path of salvation how can it do anything other than pray for the conversion of those outside the church? In particular, how can you refuse to pray for the conversion of individuals who reject Jesus as the Messiah Jesus who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but through Me”? The thought that dropping this prayer would even be considered is a marvel.
As a Protestant I do not agree with the declaration from the Vatican in any way except that I do believe there is one, true, church. The one, true, church is not visible but invisible and is made up of those who have received forgiveness of sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel of the Catholic Church and the gospel preached by Protestant churches are not the same gospel. Rome holds forth salvation via combination, a combination of God’s work and human effort. The gospel of Scripture is that we are saved by grace, through faith; not of works so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). I am glad to have these eternal differences brought before us again but must admit that when I hear that the Catholic church might be willing to drop the prayer for the conversion of the Jews that I am left to wonder if they believe what they have asserted. How can you believe that salvation is found in your church alone and yet refuse to pray for the conversion of those outside it?
Interesting things, interesting times. May God use them to startle us out of our slumber of salvation by sincerity, just be sincere about what you believe, that’s all that matters.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…”
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