Dialogue with a protestant pastor (need help)

Hi I asked a protestant (more specifically a “non-denominational” Filipino) church pastor why he left the Catholic church. He answered me from what I gathered is that he truly accepted Christ and now his focus is on Christ and not the church. I need a little help with how to reply. Any ideas? I’ve placed his quote below.

"First of all, thank you so much for your question. The moment a person truly receives the Lord in his life and surrenders himself to Him by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), something wonderful would have happened. There would be a spiritual shift from focus on the sheep-pen to the Great Shepherd. Remember, that the One crucified on the cross is neither the church nor any human personality, but Christ Himself. No churches could ever say that “come to our church and you will be saved”. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) Obviously, Jesus is the only Source of salvation. With the salvation we receive, Jesus becomes greater than the church. That’s why He said in the Gospel of John, the sheep listen to His voice. (Honestly, some people know more about the church than Jesus Himself that when He finally passes by, He would be unrecognizable) Church has its important place, of course, she can be an instrument for Christ’s salvation and a nurturing place after salvation, but is never the Source such as an appliance is plugged into the power source.

Customarily, the shepherd in old times brings out the sheep one by one and check on the condition. Once he discovers the condition, he assigns a sheep pen to where you could become healthier and stronger and will not bring you back to your former sheep pen for fear that the sheep pen the sheep came from is no longer suitable for its health. Apply this truth in our spiritual life. The Great Shepherd makes the decision to which sheep pen each of us is assigned based on the spiritual condition we are all in. His goal is to make us all spiritually healthy, strong, growing, and fulfilled in life.

So to answer your question “why people leave?”, we don’t leave because of our own accord. No sheep-pen owns the sheep, the Great Shepherd is. It would be a divine calling based on the relationship established between the two of you. So this is very personal and special and is never a case of force and brainwashing. He calls you out and you are simply responding to the call. Nothing personal…but simply a spiritual hunger that causes you to follow Him wherever He leads us. This is your spiritual decision, not anyone else. Your spiritual needs are met, your hunger satisfied, and your thirst quenched in the sheep-pen that Jesus has led you."

No – there is one Church, not many. There are not many Christian ‘sheep-pens’, but one. Having been baptized into Christ, and into His Catholic Church, one should not abandon Christ’s fold and look to go to another; as Paul wrote, “I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by [the] grace [of Christ] for a different gospel (not that there is another).”

His goal is to make us all spiritually healthy, strong, growing, and fulfilled in life.

No. His goal is that we might be saved. “Fulfilled in life”? Where’s that in the Gospel?!?!? :wink:

It would be a divine calling based on the relationship established between the two of you. So this is very personal and special

No; it is never a case of ‘Jesus and me’, but rather, ‘Jesus (the head) and us (the body) and me as a member of the body’.

He calls you out and you are simply responding to the call.

So… Jesus engages in ‘sheep-stealing’, from one denomination to another? That’s just poor theology. He can’t back that up…

This is your spiritual decision, not anyone else.

He’s right about that! When a person leaves the Church, it is his own decision, and therefore it is his own personal soul that is in jeopardy!

Your spiritual needs are met, your hunger satisfied, and your thirst quenched in the sheep-pen that Jesus has led you."

No. We are not called to this sheep-pen or that one; we are called to Christ. As Paul said (see 1 Cor 3), “So let no one boast about human beings… Paul or Apollos or Cephas… you [belong] to Christ, and Christ to God.” We cannot boast that in this guy’s sheep-pen our needs are met, or in that woman’s sheep-pen our hungers and thirsts are quenched! We belong to Christ and Christ alone! Christ’s Church is where we belong, not to a particular sheep-pen; we need to find Christ’s Church, and that’s where we belong! Anything else is vanity…

Well, you could ask where did he get the idea about “sheep pens”. For example, why does he count the Church as “one sheep pen among many”…? Why isn’t the “sheep pen” a parish or a monastery? The answer might show some other weak points of his position…

However, one part of the quoted text might indicate that contradicting statements will be easy to find:

So, he ended up saying that leaving the Church is “very personal” - and, at the same time, “Nothing personal”… :slight_smile:

That might mean that his position is mostly based on feelings and not on actual reasoning. Thus, while finding contradictions is likely to be easy, getting him to notice them and care about them might be harder…

Thanks for the ideas! I’ll keep you guys posted with what he replies with

I think that what this man has said is actually quite wonderful. It is one of the most coherent and charitable expositions I have ever read on the subject.

Naturally there ARE things that we would disagree on - things that he did not fully understand as a Catholic and this has led him on the path that he has taken.

The sad fact is that there ARE many people who know more about the Church than about Jesus. Their focus is skewed and really is something of an “OT” “Law” kind of mentality. They go to church and “follow the rules” but their spiritual lives are practically non-existent.
This can be particularly true in countries that are traditionally thought of as “Catholic”.
The Church becomes a “cultural norm” but many who are nominally Catholic have never really experienced Jesus.

In reply to what this man has said, I would suggest taking the approach that he has learned some very good lessons. But that he actually could have found all of that right here in the Catholic Church. He may yet be like the Prodigal son and discover that he left home when he really didn’t need to.

His comments about the shepherd putting the sheep in their proper pens is an interesting analogy…but like MPat said above, these could be different parishes or monastaries - not different churches. The Catholic church contains within it’s borders many different forms of spirituality, modes of worship, opportunities for spiritual growth etc…

Of everything he said though…the one that really bothers me is this:
“Remember, that the One crucified on the cross is neither the church nor any human personality, but Christ Himself”
I would remind him that the word translated as church is “Ekklesia” which is a community called out. So he is actually separating Christ from his community and this is an error.
Remember St Paul’s conversion? What did Christ say to Saul? He said, “Why are you persecuting [bME**”. Not, “why are you persecuting my people, or those people”…but why are you persecuting me.

This single line indicates how intimately interconnected is the body of Christ with all who follow Him.

So that is the approach I would take.

  1. He has made some wonderful points but in point of fact he didn’t really need to go outside of the Catholic Church to find this.
  2. Christ cannot be separated from His body the Church.

Peace
James

He never believed in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I like to speak in the hyperbolic to provoke thought. I tell bible Christians that before I could leave the Catholic Church to enter theirs, I would have to renounce Christ. Other than the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, He lives sacramentally nowhere else.

Ask him why he left the presence of Christ for a group that merely talks about him.

Ask him what Christ founded, a Church or a bible?

Ask him where the bible came from. A Pope and Council tested, debated and canonized each and every word in the bible that he uses.

Isn’t being a bible Christian taking your eyes off Jesus and focusing more on the bible?

Catholics are not Church-cenetered, or bible-centered. Catholics are Christ-centered. We do that via the Church. Period. Was he not paying attention in mass, or does he like to hear himself speak for 1-2 hours where he is now?

People who say that their focus is on Christ and not the Church miss the point that these are not two things but one. The Church is the Body of Christ that means it is Christ. The Church is the Bride of Christ and she has become one flesh with her Divine Bridegroom so she is Christ. Obviously the flawed human beings who make up the People of God carry their imperfections with them but the mystical reality which is Church is impeccable because it is filled with the fullness of Him.

Her doctrines are infallible because they are His doctrines.

Her sacraments convey Him because they are Him.

If you do not have the Church then you do not have Jesus in the fullest possible way that you can have Him in this world.

Well said and quite right.

So he leaves the Catholic “sheep pen” in order to focus on the Shepherd, and not the church. So then what does he do? Instead of simply “focusing on Christ” like he claims, he goes and starts another “sheep pen”! So now he is the Shepherd of his own “sheep pen”! By doing so, he has replaced Christ as the Shepherd. I think this is the sin of “pride”. He has placed himself as the head of his own flock. This is more than simply “focusing on Christ”. It’s a power trip, and a lack of submission to the True Head of the Church, which is Christ Jesus.

Me wonders how the sheep are supposed to recognize Christ’s voice if they only hear the pastor’s…

2 Timothy 4: 3-4

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

The problem I see with this argument, and the reason I am joining the “sheep-pen” of the Catholic Church, is that the protestant sheep-pens are built by the sheep, not the Great Shepherd. Not only that but they have built sheep-pens inside sheep-pens inside sheep-pens. All for the express purpose of providing me with a pen that suits me. It then becomes about what the sheep want for themselves, rather than what the Great Shepherd expects from the sheep.

boomerang - that is so true which can be said of all the Reformation Leaders, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Henry V111, etc. :thumbsup:

Absolutely. And you can back this up with Col. 1:24.

Side note: Reading an excellent reference book that summarizes the major (and a few minor) heresies from the early Church up to today. Dissent From The Creed by Fr. Richard M. Hogan. The introduction places the Incarnation into political, cultural and religious context. The section on the individual reformers is filled with enlightening material. Rather eerie is the fact that the heresies, chronologically speaking, follow the order and content of the Nicene Creed (was it prophetic?). If you don’t have it, I highly recommend it.

Here’s what struck me odd about his whole rant:

No churches could ever say that “come to our church and you will be saved”.

So what exactly does he preach? “Come to my church and well, I’ll tell you my version of Jesus that may or may not be beneficial to your eternal soul.” He’s a story of a guy who didn’t know his Catholic faith, got his ears tickled by someone preaching their version of Christianity, and decided to branch out on his own. Invite him here, and let him say those kinds of things, there are many folks who would love to show him the correct way.

Oh, this is absolutely true. No wonder I have spent so much of my life in confusion over my faith. I am so thankful that Christ is leading me into his True Sheep Pen.

Seen it a million times— The Protestant Pastor version of a Humblebrag. Essentially-- “Churches don’t know-- but I do. Follow the bible-- which of course means follow what I say the bible says.”

There is no common, mandatory experience or reaction. Who made him judge of every Christian’s reaction? Who made him judge of who “truly receives the Lord”??

There would be a spiritual shift from focus on the sheep-pen to the Great Shepherd.

Says who? Says this PASTOR? Funny how HIS particular church happens to be one where people should stay, and lucky for everybody that HE happens to be able to judge which churches people should stay in or leave.

Remember, that the One crucified on the cross is neither the church nor any human personality, but Christ Himself.

From P Madrid- "Paul’s use of the body as an image to describe the unity Christians have with Christ and each other is particularly vivid: “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another” (Rom 12:4-5). The Lord alluded to this unity when he prayed, “May [they] be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one” (Jn 17:22-23). He used the analogy of himself as a vine and Christians as its branches to illustrate the organic bond Christians share (Jn 15:1-5).

The teaching that the Church is Christ’s Body is emphasized throughout the New Testament. See 1 Cor 10:16, 12:12-27; Gal 3:28; Eph 1:22-23, 3:4-6, 4:4, 15, 25, 5:21-32; Col 1:18, 3:15; Heb 13:1-3."

No churches could ever say that “come to our church and you will be saved”. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) Obviously, Jesus is the only Source of salvation. With the salvation we receive, Jesus becomes greater than the church

. False exclusion. Jesus is the source, his Church is the means. Isn’t it convenient that this pastor can tell which churches consider themselves greater than Jesus and which do not?

That’s why He said in the Gospel of John, the sheep listen to His voice.

How in the world would he know which sheep listen to His voice and which do not? How would he know that members of certain churches listen to His voice and some do not?

(Honestly, some people know more about the church than Jesus Himself that when He finally passes by, He would be unrecognizable)

That much is true. And let us guess-- the churches he doesn’t like just happen to be the ones where these types of people reside? And the churches where people aren’t like that just happen to be his church and others he is affiliated with?

Church has its important place, of course, she can be an instrument for Christ’s salvation and a nurturing place after salvation, but is never the Source such as an appliance is plugged into the power source.

Not “can be an instrument”, but "IS an instrument.

Long thing about sheep and pens…

I prefer to focus on what Christ said: “I will build my Church”.

That is so true

Ok so as promised ill update you with our conversation. At first I asked him if he himself was once catholic since his initial response seemed to address converting in general, and confirmed he was once Catholic. Then I made a response using some of your suggestions and also my own input and here’s how he responded. please leave any feed back and suggestions.

"I realize that you are very Catholic and you thought the catholic is the only true church in God’s kingdom. This is OK and I respect your opinion. But if you will ready your Vatican II, you will be amazed to read that Jesus is our salvation, never the church. As Christ as the Head of the Church, remember that there are many parts of the body. He is praying not for uniformity but unity, “diversity in unity”. Every churches has its unique calling and functions, the same way each part of the body has its own. You don’t expect ears to become nose, do you? Like a mountain peak experience, all of us climbing our way up only to meet each other at the top…with only one catch…the mountain is located on the foundation of Jesus Christ Himself. Let us not all put the cart before the horse… let me explain.

I am not separating the Head from the Body as I am only focusing you on the real Source of salvation. The Church is merely God’s agent for believers’ growth and maturity. Ekklesia is not a building or an individual Christian claiming that he is the church but “people separated out of the world” to represent Him in ways so that others will be drawn to Him. It is a gathering (as you rightly said, community) that come together in submission to Christ’s Lordship. But the church is never biblically created to be the Source of slavation, only Jesus…we only point and direct people to Him. (John 14:6, John 3:16). And I am not a prodigal… who used to be a drug addict, alcoholic, womanizer…(what can you expect from a son of night club owner whose businesses were night clubs until everyone in the family met Jesus?). Now tell me, who changed and transformed our ways and experienced true peace and joy in God? Satan?..nah… Remember in the Bible, the prodigal messed up his life so badly. Did I mess up my life? Absolutely no! All others could testify what and how much Jesus has done for us. This is reality… this is the truth… this is God. Let us not all put God in our little box of religion and understanding because God is greater than all. Why not tell me your own story of transformation? Remember again what I said, many people are beholden to their religion and church practices & dogmas that when the real Jesus passes by, they wouldn’t even recognize Him. Ask this to the disciples who were rowing the boat to safety… Stay focused on Jesus! And this Jesus will the power supply that gets the church truly energized and empowered. Let’s not put the cart before the horse…

Hope you and your family can visit us one Sunday. If you’re interested, let me know. I’d be glad to give you details. :slight_smile: Love you, man"

Please offer any help with a reply. Thank you guys

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