Are we really Christian? (an incident)


#1

I was in a church in a different town (within my country which is Romania) which happened to be the base for a Pentacostal mission. It was pretty obvious since they all had yellow shirts and were everywhere, which I’m not criticizing in any way. Whilst I was in this church (CC) this lady came up to me and somehow we started talking about the missionaries. She said they made her feel dizzy and upset with all their stuff. She then asked me if I got approached by them too and I replied that although I was not I’d know how to manage the conversation. She told me it is best to avoid any engagement since “They do not hold anything in common with us. They do not believe in icons, they do not respect the cross. Like I tried to tell them that only through suffering can man reach God and they would not listen and kept on about faith alone.”

The above may simply have been bad communication but it left a sour taste in my mouth. It sounded a lot like the Catholic doctrines on faith weren’t known and it struck me as odd that icons came to mind first instead of the Eucharist or the Sacrements. It got me thinking if most Catholics really aren’t Christians in the sense that they do not accept basic Christian doctrines they are supposed to accept, and I’m not even necessairly saying that this was the case of the lady.

So what do you think, are most European practicing Catholics not really Christian or are they just vague with words? Does anybody have any counter-examples? Sorry about it, just bringing this here because it shook me a little.


#2

If she is Eastern Catholic, icons likely have a special significance to her beyond just being some holy picture.

Likewise, this was a short casual conversation you had with this lady. You are reading a lot into it, for example just assuming that because she did not mention the Eucharist first that it was somehow down her priority list. From there you seem to be saying she’s somehow not Christian, which is just weird considering that she made a point of mentioning respect for the cross (in other words Jesus and his sacrifice) and for reaching God through suffering (a very Catholic perspective).

But then you say, “I’m not even necessarily saying that this was the case of the lady” so I am really confused why you are bringing her up at all and using her as the centerpiece of a post about how perhaps “European practicing Catholics aren’t really Christian”.

My thoughts on the matter are, if this woman was talking about the importance of the cross and reaching God through suffering, She’s a Christian. If you weren’t sure about her views of Eucharist or sacraments, you should have asked her rather than just being weirded out that she didn’t mention them first.


#3

It wasn’t her per se, in fact in a way she sounded very Christian (not EC I think) but it was a couple of stuff combined, you’re probably right in that I’m thinking too much into it.


#4

I think that what you are describing is probably the norm for most Christians with the exception of certain Protestant denominations that lay particular emphasis on a very specific kind of personal conversion (letting Jesus into your heart, accepting Him as your personal Lord and saviour, allowing the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sins, recognising your utter depravity, understanding the substitutionary penal atoning nature of the cross, and in some instances receiving baptism in the Holy Spirit manifested in speaking in tongues). I would say that this Protestant conception of what it means to be a Christian is very much the exception.

The fact is that most Christians do not possess a particularly sophisticated theological understanding of what it means to be a Christian, and that is fine and has always been the case. As Christians we are not required to be academically trained theologians. For many Christians performing pious rituals such as venerating icons is an important, and perfectly valid, part of their faith. Many years ago now I was in Liverpool, a strongly Catholic area of the UK, and an older gentleman said to me, ‘I’ll be going to Mass this evening, as it’s a special day for Our Lady.’ This didn’t suggest a particularly sophisticated level of Mariology, but the depth of his faith was clear. For him, going to Mass on special days for Our Lady was like taking his mother out for lunch on her birthday. I would love to have that kind of simple devotion to Our Lady!

In short, I’d say that a lot of very holy people have been very good Christians without necessarily understanding a lot of Christian theology. There is a trendy expression used by certain Protestants these days which says, ‘Christianity is not a religion.’ For me, and for most people, Christianity absolutely is a religion. An intellectual understanding of Christianity can be a good thing, but it is not essential. Participating in the life of the Church and having a habit of personal devotions and performing good works is sufficient for most people.


#5

Nice post.
We are always told that we should approach our faith “like little children”, and for every saint who was a great theologian and wrote some huge, important work, there is another who did poorly in school but distinguished themself through great love of Jesus, Mary, saints, and their fellow humans.

As someone who spent way too many years in school and viewed it as occasionally interesting, but mostly a game one played to earn money by checking X number of credential boxes, I have always been more a fan of the simple approach. My mother taught me very young about the Fatima children and encouraged devotion to Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the saints like they were our family members. I much prefer that path…it’s like the “KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid)” method of Christianity and it works for me and is a refreshing change from having to come up with 10 logical arguments about this or that. I will make 10 logical arguments for pay, but I don’t have to make 10 logical arguments to justify loving God any more than I have to make 10 logical arguments to justify loving my mom or dad.


#6

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