Catholic world view vs. Evangelical world view


#1

In many of our discussions between Evangelicals and Catholics we hit a wall at some point along the way, not really so much about this or that teaching, but because each side has such a different world view.

Evangelicals please understand: For the Catholic all men were created good, but at the fall 3 things happened that took vital parts of us away, or it could be said that parts of us died to God: Our nature was corrupted, our intellects were darkened, and our will was weakened. Christ’s redemptive sacrifice upon the cross restores all these things to us so that we do not have to be slaves to sin, but can, by God’s grace, actually be restored to holiness and become true saints.

Catholics please understand: The Evangelical believes that at the fall man became, in one fashion or another, totally corrupted. Christ’s redemptive act on the cross does not renew us, but in a sense obliterates us and replaces us with Christ, because there is nothing worth saving in the human heart and soul. Christ’s redemption covers us up instead of reshapes us. We cannot become truly holy, but only imitate Christ’s holiness or have it laid upon us by God.

These world views are so opposite of each other that unless and until we understand this Evangelical backdrop, we Catholics will never be able to get our Evangelical brethren to understand the Catholic understanding of the nature of man at the fall and since. Nor, what Christ’s redemption accomplished and what it never was intended to do. And the same can be said of us Catholics, especially cradle Catholics or those who formerly were not Evangelicals. That’s my take on our basic disagreement, anyway.

Agree, disagree, comments?


#2

This promises to be a very interesting discussion. :thumbsup: Good choice for a topic.


#3

[quote=deb1]This promises to be a very interesting discussion. :thumbsup: Good choice for a topic.
[/quote]

I hope so, deb. I truly believe that this basic difference in world view colors every discussion we have with our Evangelical brethren and they with us be it justification (obviously), Mary, the pope, the Bible, the priesthood, and so on. Do you see what I mean?


#4

I believe this ties in with the Evangelical position of once saved always saved. Once you are “saved” and make that statement of faith, you are obligated to live your life according to Christ’s ways. However, no matter what, since Christ died for our sins, if you sin to whatever degree (murder, abortion, sexual immorality, etc) and you do not repent before death, you’re sins are forgiven as the merits of Christ’s sacrifice are applied to you. If I’m wrong on this, please forgive me, and just correct me where possible. This is based on what I’ve read on Evangelical websites.


#5

Wow! Don’t really know what else to say.

As an Evangelical Christian, I believe that Christ’s atonement for our sins is everything! By God sacrificing His only son, we are washed clean in Christ’s becoming the “lamb sacrifice”. This washing of our sins is for all our sins, once we have given our lives to the Lord.

The Bible calls all believers “Saints”. And our goal in life is to become more “Christ-like”.

I don’t know if this helps.


#6

Superstar - Followed you all the way up to the fact that we can die with unrepentant sin on our soul and still be saved by the prayer we said once, years ago.

Christ’s atonement for our sins requires repentance IMO.


#7

[quote=God’s Child]Wow! Don’t really know what else to say.

As an Evangelical Christian, I believe that Christ’s atonement for our sins is everything! By God sacrificing His only son, we are washed clean in Christ’s becoming the “lamb sacrifice”. This washing of our sins is for all our sins, once we have given our lives to the Lord.

The Bible calls all believers “Saints”. And our goal in life is to become more “Christ-like”.

I don’t know if this helps.
[/quote]

Yes but many evangelicals (and don’t take this as being directed at you) use this position to justify their continuing to sin. Catholics agree that Christ washes away our sins, but we must also accept this gift by repenting and bearing good fruit.

All Christians who are in a state of grace are indeed saints, but those who commit mortal sin and do not repent of it lose this status. Their spiritual life ceases.

Our goal in life is indeed to become more christlike, and the chiefest help in attaining such a goal is the eucharist.


#8

What is the Orthodox Jewish view of the fall?


#9

Before this gets too far, it should be noted that any reference to THE Protestant position is open to objection by Protestants themselves. The very essence of Protestantism is that one’s individual conscience is - ultimately - only bound by Scripture. Thus they feel free to disagree with any other Protestant about any theological postion.

Some will say they agree on essentials and individuals can largely hold various Christian positions as one sees fit. Others will vehemently state that the position they hold is THE position and condemn any alternative view.

The present Pope once said something very profound in it’s simplicity when he was asked if he thought the time was right to pursue union with the Lutheran church. He reportedly smiled and said “Which one?”

Just thought this needed to be acknowledged before this discussion starts to crumble under the barrage of individual Protestants crying “Protestants don’t believe that!” Della has given a very broad description of what Protestants IN GENERAL believe as a world view. Hopefully this worthy discussion won’t get bogged down under the weight of a million nits that may be picked.


#10

[quote=God’s Child]Superstar - Followed you all the way up to the fact that we can die with unrepentant sin on our soul and still be saved by the prayer we said once, years ago.

Christ’s atonement for our sins requires repentance IMO.
[/quote]

Ok, so then thats no different than Catholic teaching that one cannot die in a state of Mortal Sin. Then I’m a little confused on OSAS and if you are saved, you cannot lose your salvation, etc…can you clarify that evangelical position? How can you hold OSAS, yet still not have absolute assurance of Salvation if you died unrepentant?

Thanks!


#11

This is an interesting topic, Della.

What would you say the implications are of these 2 worldviews? What are the logical outcomes of each? One that I can think of (and this comment is limited to a pre-baptism, pre-salvation state) is the total depravity position is a precursor to other Calvinistic beliefs. However, total depravity is not necessarily contrary to Catholic theology. It is completely orthodox to say that no man can desire or respond to God’s invitation without actual graces being extended toward that person. Even Augustinian predestination is not contrary to Catholic belief–we are allowed some leeway on this issue.

I think it is important to clarify that–at least to my understanding–salvation is not rehabilitation. It is resurrection, first of spirit and eventually of body. The old nature must be done away with. It cannot be patched. We are given a completely new nature in its place. Granted, I am a convert from Protestantism, but I am unaware of any Catholic doctrine that would contradict this, and it certainly can be found in Scripture.

I think the mistake Evangelicals make is they confuse the sin nature of a man with the rest of his creature components. They tend to discount that we still bear God’s image. They fail to differentiate spiritual depravity with temporal depravity. And they may forget that all people are born with God’s natural law written in their hearts, with the possibility that this conscience can be seared, plunging that person into a deeper state of depravity. While we are all initially dead to God with no reminant of spirit that can be ressucitated, only reborn as a new creation, temporal depravity can certainly vary from person to person. Objectively, one cannot equate someone who does not believe in God, but who is involved with philanthropy, with Hilter.

Della, your statement of Evangelical belief, “Christ’s redemptive act on the cross does not renew us, but in a sense obliterates us and replaces us with Christ, because there is nothing worth saving in the human heart and soul. Christ’s redemption covers us up instead of reshapes us. We cannot become truly holy, but only imitate Christ’s holiness or have it laid upon us by God,” does not reflect what I was taught as a Protestant. (Of course, there are so many varieties, I don’t doubt that many people do believe as you describe.)

But my previous Evangelical understanding within Presbyterian and Evangelical Free circles was the following–that there is a past, present, and future aspect of salvation. My understanding was: we have been saved from the penalty of sin (upon regeneration), we are being saved from the power of sin (throughout our life on earth and to the extent that we surrender our will to Him), and we will be saved from the presence of sin (when we die and go to heaven). Each of these three aspects pertains to one of the three components of our being: spirit, soul (the seat of our will, personality, and intellect), and body respectively.

Evangelicals absolutely do believe in an infusion of grace that fundamentally changes us–an actual renewal. They believe that our spirit is not replaced by Christ, but that we are given a new spirit that is completely holy. If our spirit were not completely holy, it would not be a suitable dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.

The doctrine of imputation, according to Evangelicals pertains to how God deals with the second aspect of salvation: we are being saved from the power of sin. In a state of sanctifying grace, we are indeed covered by the finished and superabundant work of Christ. Catholics actually believe this, too. Imputation is applied to us when we commit venial sins. We are still in a state of grace and “covered” by the blood of the Lamb. The point of difference between Catholics and Evangelicals is Evangelicals do not recognize our ability to fall from santifying grace. They do not understand that the concept of mortal sin is not a matter that some sins cannot be covered by Christ, but some sins are directly or indirectly a rejection of Christ by way of deliberately resisting or offending the energetic efforts of the Holy Spirit.

I truly think the differences between the 2 camps are much more nuanced than first appears. The differences are mainly a misunderstanding on the part of Protestants plus a few corrections in key points of theology. I’m optimistic that we will see a massive revival of Protestants realizing this and coming into the Catholic Church in unprecedented numbers.


#12

[quote=Maranatha]What is the Orthodox Jewish view of the fall?
[/quote]

Which one? There are so many sects of Judaism, including amongst the Orthodox, there is no telling.


#13

[quote=God’s Child]Superstar - Followed you all the way up to the fact that we can die with unrepentant sin on our soul and still be saved by the prayer we said once, years ago.

Christ’s atonement for our sins requires repentance IMO.
[/quote]

Unless I am mistaken, I believe that many Catholics believe that a minor sin such as getting angry at someone and forgetting it can be saved by prayer. You don’t repent of it because you forget it, you repent of all sin and keep repenting because most of us really don’t stop sinning.
I repented of all sin when I was confirmed and rejected Satan and accepted Christ. But I continue to sin once in a while and repent from those sins. But we can die with some sins unrepented especially if I die without expecting it. Lets say I am experiencing and accident and I curse the person who just cut me off then I fly off the road and die. I never had a chance to repent, but my prayer and intention to follow Christ earlier, I personally believe is enough. So even though we fail, God accepts us.

Now lets say I accept Christ live many years Holy and serving Him but become very prosperous and start to become worldly, in my old age start to become bitter and have a bit of money. I ultimately reject Christ and start a life of sin, I live frivously, sinfully trying to fill my empty heart and sin more, ultimately cursing God because I have blown my money and die angry for the suffering I blame God for.
We see similar things happen in our lives with people and that is why Catholics believe we must strive for holiness and carry our cross daily.

Christ’s is our atonement for our sins, but we must accept it and not blaspheme it by rejecting Him. That is why we must strive by God’s Grace for holiness.

Catholics say this every Sunday,
I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.

We repent but sometimes fail to repent before we die, and are made holy by Jesus’s Sacrifice, but we must accept it.

God Bless
Scylla


#14

[quote=scylla]Unless I am mistaken, I believe that many Catholics believe that a minor sin such as getting angry at someone and forgetting it can be saved by prayer.
[/quote]

I think this is slightly inaccurate. Venial sins do not affect santifying grace at all. They may weaken us and make us more vulnerable to committing a mortal sin, but technically speaking, we are fully and completely saved after the commission of a venial sin. Praying for forgiveness restores our fellowship with God and our own holiness, but does not save us because we are already saved. As long as we are in a state of Grace, justification is imputed to us.

When we commit a mortal sin, we are completely cut off from santifying grace. Reconciliation is needed to restore this. There really is no in-between state. Either we are in a state of grace or we are not.


#15

Well said Della.

I have a dear friend who is a baptist minister and we’ve had many ‘discussions’ of our faith. It’s not uncommon for us to come to that wall you speak of , and cross swords with loud and ringing steel, but not necessarily for the same reasons you mention. The thing that helps us the most is a genuine love and effection for one another and a understanding that no matter what we are brothers in Christ. Often times we’ll begin our discussions with a prayer and affirmation that at the end we will still be brothers:thumbsup:

Honestly it is faith and love that has kept our friendship alive. I think if that approach is taken we can’t go wrong, even when we disagree.


#16

Good explanation, I was thinking of trying to explain it, from an Evangelical point of view, in that for some Evangelicals any sin is damning. There are some Evangelicals who make no distinction between venial and mortal sins.

Thank you for the correction
God Bless
Scylla


#17

I can’t speak for all evangelicals, but this is not what I believe nor is this what I have been taught by the churches I have been in. And I have in a few different churches (not because I shop around, but because I have moved around a lot and when I do look for a church in my community and there are many denominations where I feel comfortable and believe that Jesus is honored and the truth is taught). Anyway, we receive the righteousness of Christ which redeems our sins, and the Holy Spirit which reshapes us. The human soul is extremely valuable to God; that is why he sent his Son to die for us. I am afraid that was a gross distortion of what we believe. But I am not angry with you, we do a pretty good job a twisting what you believe as well:).


#18

[quote=Jayson]Yes but many evangelicals (and don’t take this as being directed at you) use this position to justify their continuing to sin. Catholics agree that Christ washes away our sins, but we must also accept this gift by repenting and bearing good fruit.

.
[/quote]

I hope you have not encountered too many evangelicals who believe this. If you have, I am sorry, but rest assured that they have no life in Him. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who thinks that redemption gives them a license to sin. Accepting Jesus as Lord means becoming as Paul says, a slave to Christ. Slaves obey their masters.


#19

I can’t argue with you that there is disagreement among protestant about essentials. However, if by in general we mean what do the majority believe, Della’s statement is still an inaccurate depiction of what evangelics believe.


#20

Unless I am mistaken, I believe that many Catholics believe that …

Please be careful with this. I recommend always going to what the Church teaches and not what Catholics do. Unfortunately, there are not always the same, usually do to poor or incomplete education.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.