Communicating with Protestants

Today I’ve had a rather unusual experience that’s got me thinking hard about my Catholic faith and I’d like to invite some comment.
To make a long story short, I’ve managed to get myself “kicked off” Catholic Lane today; I and the senior editor disagreed vigorously about…something. I’m still not entirely sure what I said that she didn’t like, but that’s not something I can address right now. The argument stems from argument regarding how we ought to address Protestant concerns.
Keep in mind, after reviewing some of the editor’s other writings, I admit I insinualted something about her character in a way that I shouldn’t. My apologies to the editor on that count. I didn’t state my case as well as I might.

The exchange has me thinking more deeply about how I or others interact with Protestants though.

Many of us have heard questions like, “Have you been saved?” or “Do you know Jesus?” or something similar. I’ve always been rather flummoxed with those; I’ve usually been inclined to say, “I’m Catholic”, and assume that says it all. Beings I’ve never felt that’d accomplish much, I’ve usually just murmured something inconsequential and allowed the moment to pass.
I’ve heard that we ought to answer “Yes”, or something equally brief, or we ought to say “Christ” more often, but I’ve never felt comfortable with those answers. Today, I have cause to contemplate why.

As I consider the question, I find I can’t readily say “yes” or something similar in good conscience because…that’s not what I believe in. Our respective faith traditions don’t teach quite the same things about God, about Christ, about the Holy Spirit, or even about the sacraments.
I don’t believe I’ve been saved. Not yet. I’m not dead yet, so I’m still a work in progress.

If I tell a person that I’ve been saved because I understand the origin of the question, isn’t it possible that I’ve allowed myself to become culpable of neglect? I know very well what HE, the Protestant means, but if I don’t believe what he believes, shouldn’t I technically say “No”? After the average Protestant recovers from that shock and wishes to “save” me or tell me about his friend Jesus, do I wait for him to finish? Or do I tell him that I’m Catholic and don’t believe half the doctrine he’s trying to propose?
How can I do any of these things without taking a serious risk of offending the person or boring them?

I believe in God, my Lord and Savior; I believe in Christ, his Son, our Lord, who died on the cross to transform me into being able to accept his grace. I believe in the Holy Spirit, who tugs everlastingly upon my conscience and soul to lead back to the Father.

While some Protestant denominations believe in the Trinity, some don’t. I’m not sure I can answer some of their questions in a manner they’ll understand without inherently either neglecting something…or leaving them bored or aggravated with something they’ve never believed.

So how do I answer these questions?

I’m stumped.

My faith formation teacher talked about this. He told us to say something like, “I am saved, I’m being saved, and hopefully I will be saved.” I’m kicking myself right now because I can’t remember the whole response though. I think there was Baptism, God’s grace, or Jesus’ death and resurrection thrown in there somewhere. I doubt this helps much, but hopefully someone else can revise this to make it more helpful.

As a former Protestant, I suggest you say you are born again. You have been regenerated through baptism, so it’s absolutely true. Or I would say I am saved-- through grace, by faith shown by my obedience and good works. If they inquire if you think you’re saved by works, tell them that James says we’re justified by works, and good works always accompany faith-- you can’t have one without the other. That’s what they believe too, so they really can’t argue.

I’ve considered doing that, but again, I don’t think I can do that with a completely clear conscience. I don’t believe he’s asking if I’ve been saved according to my own–Catholic–understanding. He wants to know if I’ve been saved according to the Protestant understanding.
Beings I’m not a Protestant, it seems to me somewhat deceitful to say yes, precisely because I’d be, subtlely at least, affirming something I don’t believe.

As I further contemplate the dilemma, I’m thinking I’d be best off to inform him that I do, indeed, believe I’m BEING saved, so long as I explain that I mean this according to the Catholic understanding of salvation.
Perhaps that’s a bit legalistic, but it strikes me as the most honest and effective way to answer the question without causing some difficulties.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart - I am agonizing over my 2 Protestant daughter in laws who actually dislike the Catholic Church. They seem to go out of their way to point out differences, etc., and, yes, I was disappointed when they both married outside the church. What can I say? It hurt. But I am grateful that they are God-loving women, or so they say. I’m finding myself being sucked down into a battle I don’t fully understand, for I am a weak, weak, Catholic. Sometimes I even question whether there is a God. Please don’t shut me out. I just don’t know what is going on with my faith. Maybe this isn’t the place for this talk, eh? ANyway, I am looking and searching - The third son remains Catholic, although in name only and his girlfriend is Catholic, again, I think only in name. I feel so disconnected from all 6 kids.

Honestly, Iola? I’d say you’re struggles…sound familiar.
I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who lived Catholic faith passionately who DIDN’T struggle with whether it actually meant something or not. Don’t know if you’re aware, but Mother Theresa of Calcutta (now Blessed, I believe) struggled with “barrenness” most of her life. St. John of the Cross (I think) wrote a poem regarding the “Dark Night of the Soul”. (Loreena McKennitt set it to music several years ago; it’s a beautiful piece.)

Suffice to say, if you’re struggling, you’re in good company!

I understand your struggle with your daughters’ tendency to highlight differences between liturgies and/or beliefs. I distinctly recall being tempted the same way during my college years; one of my professors required her class to attend two events from outside our own cultural background. I refrained from vocally critiquing the services of the Missouri Synod Lutherans and the Baptists, but I can assure you I thought about it quite a lot!

Tough to know how to approach the situation, isn’t it? We always have prayer, we always have our ability to offer loving guidance.
This may sound a bit hollow, but have you considered offering your sufferings up to Christ as a penance for someone? It’s tough to do, but if you’re willing, you might manage it.

I do wish you all of Christ’s blessings, and for your family too!

The bible says that salvation is a process, that we are to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling.”

Pope Benedict devoted his 2nd encyclical to this exact concern of your post in Spe Salvi
(In hope we are saved).
Obviously since the bible is first a Catholic book, we believe everything in it.
We believe it all. We don’t just believe a few verses of what it “means to be saved” but all the verses pertaining to salvation from Genesis to Revelation.

THis is the best I’ve ever read on the subject of salvation, and I’m sure MOST if not ALL your protestant brethren would agree with everything Pope Benedict has written.

Print if off, read it, highlight it, study it, memorize it; because this is what we believe about being saved as Catholics. I think nothing better has ever been written to help with this dialogue between us and our separated brethren. is another good source to familiarize yourself with.
You could easily write up a quick answer sheet for your wallet, that has bible verses for :
Yes I am born again John 3 (born of water)
Yes I have been saved … Eph 2:5, 8., Mark 16:16
Yes, I am being saved… Phil 2:12
Yes, I hope they will be saved…Rom. 8:24

Many Protestants say “I got saved,” or “I am saved,” or “Have you been saved?” Many, but not all of them, think salvation is instantaneous, as soon as one “accepts Jesus Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior,” and “asks Jesus into one’s heart” but the Bible doesn’t teach instant salvation.

A Catholic should say when asked:

“I have been saved” (Rom 8:24, Eph 2:5-8),

“I am being saved” (1 Cor 1:8, 2 Cor 2:15),

“and I have the hope that I will be saved when I die (Rom 5:9-10, 1 Cor 3:12-15).”

“Like the Apostle Paul, I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom 5:2, 2 Tim 2:11.)”

Catholics embrace all of the dimensions of salvation in the Bible. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior or asking him into your heart are nowhere to be found in the Bible Protestants claim is the only rule of faith. Lutherans and Anglicans/Episcopalians don’t believe in instant salvation either.

Jim Dandy
Former Protestant

To the question, “Do you know Jesus?” I reply, “Yes, indeed. I know Him very well. I’m a friend of the family. Do you know his mother, Mary and His foster father, Joseph?”

When they ask, “Have you been born again?” I answer YES. Every baptized Christian has been born again according to the Bible – John 3:3-5. If you want to know if I have accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, I accept him almost every day and definitely every Sunday when I renew my covenant with him by receiving Him in Holy Communion."

although i now am a Catholic, i was raised in the Episcopal church and once i left home i
was lukewarm about my faith, to say the least.
however, whenever, i would meet someone and they would ask me if i was saved - it would really rub me the wrong way. mainly, because most of the time they would say this with a smirk on their face - like they were telling me they knew something i didn’t.
i would be embarrassed because they seemed to be making me to feel guilty. even though my faith was lukewarm, i had learned the love of Christ in the Eucharist in the Episcopal church and i didn’t feel i was lacking anything. i felt that i had a fullness of faith.
anyhow, most recently, i was in the hospital with a broken ankle a few months ago.
my roommate was a former Catholic and the woman visiting her was also a former Catholic, but now an evangelical Christian. i showed them the book i was reading called Rediscovering Catholicism. the visitor asked me “are you saved?” it brought back a flood of bad memories. it is really hard to relate to that question. as an Episcopalian, or an Anglican or a Catholic, it just doesn’t really make sense, but i don’t think they know that.
they don’t understand the mystery of the Eucharist and have never experienced its power and beauty. they don’t know what they are missing.

Interesting thread.

Fulton Sheen has said today, you would think many people believe themselves to be Immaculately Conceived!

A good thing to remember is Jesus, implored us to take up our cross…DAILY. And follow him. Seems to me, the first day we believed, until the last day.

Catholic Answers had a show last week on the Q & A with convert, John Martignoni addressing the fact that we can be affirmed and then turn our backs on Jesus, as noted in Peter’s epistle; and one of John’s I believe.
There are many others that mention those who heard the word, the parable of the seeds alludes to this. Also we know that the Demons know who the Lord is, and they tremble. It’s not enough to say Jesus is My Savior. It’s not enough to hear or know the word , but to continue to do the Word.
Personally, If '** ARE YOU SAVED? comes up**? ’ to me.

I Would Say, ***By God’s grace if & when I get to Heaven, THEN I can tell you. *
Right now I’m picking up my cross! I must die daily , we’re in this for the long haul, and we have to persevere, lest we lose our soul!
To whom much is given, much is expected.

Basically, I will have to say, I’ll know for sure, when I AM DEAD!

We should also follow Jesus’ example. Because they got it all wrong with this insistent and presumptuous “Saved” nonsense. And they continue to mislead people who are innocent and sincere who want to love Jesus, but “I am saved” distracts from Jesus, and self-congratulates SELF for hearing the word. Confidence in Christ! Not overconfidence in one’s ears!

We can possibly follow Jesus’ rabbinic method of returning it with a question of our own?

To point back to Jesus AS THE Word?

Rather, do I believe Jesus is the Christ? son of the Living God, and the source, the WAY to Salvation? do I hear his word, and do I KEEP his word? Do I follow him? And does that require I follow him daily, or do I do whatever I want because I heard the word once? Do I not seek and continue to ask and learn about the TRUTH from…his Church? Where is his Church?

My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me

This verse, may go hand in hand with,
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father

So what of those who say Lord, Lord?? Don’t they share a commonality with the “I am Saved because I know Jesus is God” Is it enough to know?
Or is it enough to do the will of Jesus ONCE! Or persistently??

One should also look at Michael Voris’ video when he was engaging with a Lutheran. It made me laugh!

Glad you are home with the Blessed Sacrament, 7 Sorrows. Even though I’m a cradle Catholic – like you, at one point I was lukewarm in my general belief/faith in God.(and I hope that does not scandalize others coming across these comments who have never been lukewarm, I have been humbled by hearing others who have had firmer faith than me in their journey) It’s a shame I didn’t realize how special the Eucharist is. I should have been spending more time with him sooner.

I am often times sad when I think about how there are so many pieces of the baptized wandering outside the Church & scattered ever since Luther & the corrupted Bishops bad wills within the Church caused that large apostasy. I am also sorrowful when I hear about former Catholics leaving for another denomination; we have to pray for them & our Church to be the Salt & Light it is supposed to be so they would turn their heads and see great witnesses of Jesus. If there was more of that they wouldn’t even have gotten lost.
Conversely, I am however really amazed by God, using the broken pieces, and slowly pulling those with fervor and faith within the outside congregations, and bringing THEM back to the Mystical Body & the Blessed Sacrament. I like the many converts testimonies. John 6, really is key for all Christians. What is the point of a sacramental SYMBOLISM to the God who can do ALL things?

On a lighter note, You know your “Are You Saved?” anecdote reminds me of when I was listening to Catholic Answers a year or two ago, and one of the hosts , Patrick Coffin possibly , said he was attending a picnic with a Catholic friend and one of the Born Agains, asked them something like, “oh so you’re Catholic, you know I used to be a Sinner JUST LIKE YOU! " and either the host or his friend, deadpanned, *”. . . What kind of sinner are you now?" *

They said the conversation didn’t go very far after that…

From the outset I have no difficulty with Protestants from any denomination.

However I have noticed that here in my parish, we’re getting regular door callers from Jehovah Witnesses (JW), Baptists (B) and other Protestant denominations.
Invariably their first question is “Have you been saved”.

I immediately tell these callers that I am Roman Catholic and am perfectly content to remain so.
They invariably start quoting the Bible to me and ask “do you read your Bible?” at which point the conversation descends in to a bout of “but about this quotation…blah blah”

In this country because the RCC is underattack due to child sexual abuse cases, it is clear that the Protestant denominations see this as an opportunity to try to recruit disaffected Roman Catholics.
Obviously it is their prerogative to implement whatever recruitment policy they feel is appropriate.

However merely telling them that I’m Roman Catholic doesn’t deter this people from trying to outquote me as regards the Bible.

I need to work on a surefire reply in order to send these genuine, if misguided, people on their way.

Ah, good.
I do not wish to be disparaging to anyone’s answers, because I’m sure they’re all well intended. I must admit though, a few of these do truly warm my spirit because they seem to truly, fully comprehend the deepest layer of grit to be found in my question.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing very well at explaining the extent to the problem.

As a few seem to have understood, I’m not precisely looking for a means to provide a set of Bible quotes to make my case, nor do I precisely wish to use some form of silver bullet answer. Essentially the question really is thus:
How do I, as a Catholic, overcome my own sense of burning disgust with what I, personally, consider a relatively…patronizing question…with charity, clarity, and brevity? How do I help a Protestant understand that such a question, while well intentioned (probably), DOES none-the-less insinuate to me that my Catholic faith has no merit? How do I help a Protestant understand this while still avoiding speaking or behaving as though the Protestant’s faith had no value?
…And how do I do all that without having a near compelling need to take 10 minutes to soothe another person’s (unintentionally) dashed sense of being a valuable human being?

OK, let’s admit that there’re times when I truly do wish I could simply strangle Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingly (sp?), and a few others. Tough to tell whether any of them precisely inflicted their errors upon us intentionally, or whether the harm done came about more accurately as, er, collateral damage. I’d say it doesn’t entirely matter after a fashion, the angst I suffer at trying to aid our separated brothers and sisters…hurts either way.

I DO want to mention something fairly important though:
While I believe the Bible DOES teach infallible truth, I’m inclined to be quite wary about quoting it, especially with multiple quotes. Overall, as someone quotes the Bible more and more, they’re prone to commit at least one of a few possible errors:

  1. Misquoting or misinterpreting what the author actually wrote or intended to write
  2. Using the Bible not as a teaching tool, but as more of a big lawgivers book, one that may be using to thump someone upon the head when they don’t change their mind.

Maybe that’s a long-winded way of describing my idea of a bible-thumper.

I genuinely dislike when people do that to me. I’ve come across all manner of biblical quotes, many of them quite short or quite long, but quite pertinent either way.
…And I’ve come across many that don’t seem to comprehend that the quotes they’ve selected…don’t appear to bear the slightest resemblance to a coherent answer to the question!

I think what you’ve said here, if said in love would be appropriate to say to the person inquiring about your salvation. It seems like you don’t really want to get into a big discussion with Protestants, but you might rethink that because I wish someone had gone through the scriptures with me, and shown me the verses about Christ instituting the infallible Church-- not just an infallible Book.

I’m sorry, that must be so difficult for you. My husband is not in the church, and as of now he doesn’t want me to enroll our kids in RCC. I will pray for your sons and their wives/ girlfriend, and for your faith.

Every Catholic should learn the history of the Bible. If more Catholics knew where we got the Bible, fewer would be susceptible to Bible-only Protestants who quote their “proof-texts” and convince them (falsely!) that the Catholic Church is unbiblical.

The New Testament consists of 27 of the Catholic Church’s own writings. The Church is about 364 years older than the Bible. It’s the many false misinterpretations that are unbiblical.

There are thousands of Protestant denominations, all based on the same (incomplete) Bible, but no two of them agree about what the Bible means. Protestantism is a guessing game. Guess which denom teaches the truth? Answer: none of them. They all teach some of the truth, but none teach all of the truth. They are all man made.

The Catholic Church is God-made!

A little history book, Where We Got the Bible, by a former Presbyterian minister, Henry Graham, is available free and online at this link:

This book is also available from Catholic Answers and Amazon.

Jim Dandy
Ex-Southern Baptist, ex-agnostic, ex-atheist, ecstatic to be Catholic!

i can’t remember who posted this, but i do agree that when they ask “are you saved” it is in a self congratulatory or boasting manner. like they are so sure they are saved, but are asking us in an accusing way that we (meaning Catholics, episcopalians or anglicans)
there is definitely a litle friction between myself and the other person i am communicating with if they are a protestant - at least if we are discussing any religious doctrine, not necessarily everyday discussions.

my advice from personal experience is the more you cater to these people the more it damages your own faith and the more license it gives them to abuse the absurdities in the heresies they believe which is what they are when it comes down to it

I know how you feel , J…It’s frustrating because you desire what God desires infinitely more. It’s like knowing a secret you are dying to tell. The Good news, and what’s worse is they have a shoddy Newspaper Spun version of the Good News.

I think before you feel engaging with other protestants if you are put in these situations due to your friendship circles, or work place, you have to pray and meditate, first.
Also don’t focus too much on barriers. My favorite scripture passage to cite right now is Jesus engaging with the Woman at the Well. She was a Samaritan, they were pretty wrong in the Jewish faith, she was also an adulterer and an outcast. Did Jesus resent her for these?

OK, let’s admit that there’re times when I truly do wish I could simply strangle Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingly (sp?), and a few others.

I like the cut of your jib. Same here. God have mercy on their souls!

I DO want to mention something fairly important though:
While I believe the Bible DOES teach infallible truth, I’m inclined to be quite wary about quoting it, especially with multiple quotes. Overall, as someone quotes the Bible more and more, they’re prone to commit at least one of a few possible errors:

  1. Misquoting or misinterpreting what the author actually wrote or intended to write
  2. Using the Bible not as a teaching tool, but as more of a big lawgivers book, one that may be using to thump someone upon the head when they don’t change their mind.

Maybe that’s a long-winded way of describing my idea of a bible-thumper.

I genuinely dislike when people do that to me. I’ve come across all manner of biblical quotes, many of them quite short or quite long, but quite pertinent either way.
…And I’ve come across many that don’t seem to comprehend that the quotes they’ve selected…don’t appear to bear the slightest resemblance to a coherent answer to the question!

I agree. Never liked Bible Thumpers on face value.
I’m not good at citations. I just know what I’ve read and can restate the passage. Non-Catholics think that WE don’t know our bibles and they’re kind of right; so it’s good to at least be well-versed without expecting to use them. Don’t want to be caught off guard and prove the stereotype correct.

My best advice, from my experience. Don’t know if it’s helpful to immediately engage with Bible verses but if a handy verse comes up, it comes up. Also what makes Catholics have the advantage of the Truth is too eliminate the idea that we have a blind faith. I find a lot of reason and logic comes from the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit helping us through the holy mother Church. The most enjoyable aspects is when we point out why this pertains to Mary, or why the apostles. For instance, why the Bible & Tradition go hand in hand, as the Bible came a while later for the early Christians. What were they relying on??? Certainly not sola-scriptura.

Here’s another one you have to know how they interpret scripture still superficially and without context. Especially the quotes about Mary.
You have to use reason and logic to beat them over the head.

Like when Jesus corrects the person about how his mother is Blessed. They essentially INTERPRET that passage to say, that Jesus, a perfect man , a perfect son and God himself , gets annoyed when someone tries to praise his Mother. That’s how they READ it when you think about it. That he is always putting her DOWN???


It’s completely illogical , starting with the 4th commandment! Yet protestants imply Jesus doesn’t honor his mother throughout the gospel.

Instead of interpreting it, "rather, Blessed are those who do my will and keep it. " He is honoring WHY you would call her blessed. It’s because of her perfect will, that I CHOSE HER TO BE HIS MOTHER! "

So as Catholics we have to really ask God to open our eyes and minds in truth & reason. And definitely use logic.
We Catholics are to not just quote scripture isolatedly but to relate them to other parts.

Their superficial interpretations to put down Mary, can be used against them, as Jesus has the same response referring to himself. “Why do YOU call me, good, Nobody is good but God?” Jesus understands MAN better than we THINK we know ourselves. He says I’m God, to the wise and the ones who hears him.
So when he gets those who are listening to him to stop and think when he replies with his own question. He is edifying himself as God, this relates to when he edifies why Mary IS BLESSED!

These are things to think about in regard to Scripture. I agree, it takes a lot more work & prayer, than just memorizing a bunch of quotes to throw at people!

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