How can I be a Christian and not a "catholic"

As an evangelical protestant, I believe that all those who have faith in Christ, and hold to the basics of the faith (Inspiration/authority of Scripture, Deity/Virgin Birth of Christ, Atoning Work of Christ, Bodily Resurrection of Christ, etc) are part of the universal church – the body of Christ. (including Catholics!!!)

As I understand Catholic Teaching, validly baptized Protestants are considered Christians. My question then is this: How can I be a Christian and not be a member of the universal (catholic) church? Do Catholics believe in any form of organic unity of all believers in Christ? I’m having a hard time understanding the catholic position.

Thanks!

I will direct you to the Catholic Answers site. There is an article called “What “Catholic” means”. It may be a good place to start.

www.catholic.com/library/What_Catholic_Means.asp

[quote=PastorVW]As an evangelical protestant, I believe that all those who have faith in Christ, and hold to the basics of the faith (Inspiration/authority of Scripture, Deity/Virgin Birth of Christ, Atoning Work of Christ, Bodily Resurrection of Christ, etc) are part of the universal church – the body of Christ. (including Catholics!!!)

As I understand Catholic Teaching, validly baptized Protestants are considered Christians. My question then is this: How can I be a Christian and not be a member of the universal (catholic) church? Do Catholics believe in any form of organic unity of all believers in Christ? I’m having a hard time understanding the catholic position.

Thanks!
[/quote]

Hi PastorVW! :wave:

Jesus established a Church (Matt 16:18) through which His ministry continues until the end of time. All Christians (validly baptised believers) are united to that Church is some way. Christians who have been fully incorporated into the Church are more fully united to it than those who have not.

Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who- by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical govermnent, and communion- are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops.

The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter. Those who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church (# 837-838).

Hope that helps!

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:

Christ has an organic body, not disconnected body parts; and He has a Bride, not a harem (Ephesians 5:21-30, et al.). :slight_smile:

There are former Protestant clergymen available at www.chnetwork.org who understand your thinking and theological training very well and can answer your questions. You’re very welcome here at Catholic Answers as well.

Peace be with you,

Jay Damien

why would you want to be? If in your search for truth, you discover that Christ started, blessed and promised to the world today what you see and we call the Roman Catholic Church, wouldn’t you race to it’s membership given that truth…

I don’t know, it seems like a no-brainer to me… maybe i am not fully understanding your delima…

Peace :thumbsup:

How can we just unilaterally declare there to be “mystical body of Christ” only?

That argument fails when confronted with reality.

Liberal Episcopalians ordain homosexual bishops. They are not in the body of Christ.

The Church is both mystical and hierarchical at the same time. Christ appointed Peter as primer inter pares - first among equals, and he did not choose the most learned apostle. He chose the one with the most burning faith. And…he forgave him even after his very public failings.

This was Christ’s model for the Papacy. The Church has a communal nature as much as it does a Petrine model to follow as well.

God wants organized, well lead religion. He does not want splintering and factionalism. The Devil rejoices at that.

We have apologized for our roles in these major schisms, but it does not change the fact that there is only one Church.

All people are saved through the Catholic church whether they know it or not. Whether they accept it as such or not. Most Catholics refer to non-Catholic Christians as separated brethren. You are in partial communion with Christ and His church, but not FULL communion.

How can I be a Christian and not be a member of the universal (catholic) church? Do Catholics believe in any form of organic unity of all believers in Christ? I’m having a hard time understanding the catholic position.

It is possible that a Christian can be a heretic or schismatic, or just merely disobedient and thereby separating himself due to unfaithfulness from the body of Christ by mortal sin.

Every validly baptized Christian is righly called Christian. But not every validly baptized Christian continues in their stedfast faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

In St. Augustine’s view:

We believe also in the holy Church, that is, the Catholic Church. For heretics violate the faith itself by a false opinion about God; schismatics, however, withdraw from fraternal love by hostile separations, although they believe the same things we do. Consequently, neither heretics nor schismatics belong to the Catholic Church; not heretics, because the Church loves God; and not schismatics, because the Church loves neighbor (*Faith and the Creed *10:21 [A.D. 393]).

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

CCC 1212 The sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. “The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.”

Non-Catholics who have received valid Baptism (Trinitarian in form) are accepted as fellow Christians. However, they are separated brethren since they have not been brought into full communion of the Church by receiving the additional Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist.

CCC 1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: “For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.” “Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.”

If you are interested, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a wealth of information on how Catholics view the sacraments of Christian Initiation. You can also find more info on the Catholic Answers website and here in this forum.

Peace

Christians are called Christians because they are followers of CHRIST…“Catholic” means universal…ONE BAPTISM,ONE BODY,ONE GOD !!! We all belong to the mystical body of Christ…We all serve ONE GOD!! :slight_smile:

I am not totally understanding your question but here goes…

Of course catholic and Catholic are two different things. I think some people posting either missed this or are unaware of the difference. Small ‘c’ catholic stands for the universal Church of all believers that are Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy spirit and abide by all that is included in that Apostles Creed. Big ‘C’ Catholic is common name for the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic faith is such that the only True Church is the Catholic Church and all others are incorrect even though they indeed contain Christians.

The protestant denominations view is such that all churches belong on the catholic church – we are subdivisions if you will of the same one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. As the original poster stated the Catholic church is just one more subdivision of the church of all believers. Once you realize this distinction you become utterly aware of the fact that the argument of 30,000 denominations is silly to a Protestant. We may have 30,000 subdivisions in the catholic church but the Catholic Church is also one of them. I guess that makes it 30,001.

Shibboleth,

The NT Church was a single legal and administrative body that united all the regional Churches of the world. This is seen in the book of Acts, where the hierarchy at Jerusalem decreed authoritatively what ought to be done regarding circumcision. Those that rejected this decree were no longer in union with the universal Church.

Webster defines “denomination” not as a subdivision of the same Church, but “a religious organization uniting local congregations in a single legal and administrative body.” Since every Baptist parish is a law unto itself, I find that 33,000 denominations is a tragically low estimate as to Baptist denominations, let alone within all of Protestantism.

When the creed was written in the early Church, those who rejected the canons of the Catholic Church were not considered part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. When Protestants attempt to revise into their own meaning the authorial intent of these ancient Creeds, Catholics find it unconvincing. It is no different than the way Mormons describe God using the same words but having contrary meanings. What did the Nicene Creed mean to the bishops gathered together at Nicea? That’s what Catholics insist upon. To give it some fluffy meaning contrary to those who authored the creed lacks scholastic integrity.

The question above pertains to what the Catholic Church, pastored by Pope John Paul II teaches regarding the matter. According to this Catholic view, heretics are no longer united in body with the Catholic Church. However, if heretics cling to their erroneous views in “good faith”, then these are considered united in soul to the Catholic Church, although not in body. As such, these heretics (or schismatics) who live in good faith are on the way of salvation.

When we speak of within and without in relation to the Church, it is the position of the heart that we must consider, not that of the body. . . . All who are within [the Church] in heart are saved in the unity of the ark” (St. Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists, 5:28:39).

Pope St. Pius X:

29 Q: But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved?
A: If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can, such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.

{Catechism of St. Pius X, The Ninth Article of the Creed}

[quote=PastorVW]As an evangelical protestant, I believe that all those who have faith in Christ, and hold to the basics of the faith (Inspiration/authority of Scripture, Deity/Virgin Birth of Christ, Atoning Work of Christ, Bodily Resurrection of Christ, etc) are part of the universal church – the body of Christ. (including Catholics!!!)…
[/quote]

From what authoritative source did you derive your list of the basics of the faith? There are evangelical protestants who don’t believe as you’ve proposed. What makes you right and them wrong? Two of the basics of the faith which you’ve left out are: The establishment of a visible, physical Church under the leadership of St. Peter carried on in perpetuity by St. Peter’s successors, (the Bishops of Rome). The true presence of Christ; body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist.

Steve

[quote=space ghost]why would you want to be? If in your search for truth, you discover that Christ started, blessed and promised to the world today what you see and we call the Roman Catholic Church, wouldn’t you race to it’s membership given that truth…

I don’t know, it seems like a no-brainer to me… maybe i am not fully understanding your delima…

Peace :thumbsup:
[/quote]

Actually I agree that the issue is a no brainer. I consider myself to be united with Catholic, Orthodox and all other believers in the “catholic” or universal body of Christ.

Wait a minute forget the word “consider” I KNOW I am united with all believers. Christ has totally changed my life - and I know that He does the same thing in the Catholic church as well.

My question is basically how the Catholic church can accept that reality (and I have no doubt that it does), while at the same time speaking of 'sperated brethern".

The difference in the Catholic Church is we believe in Transubstantiation, we believe that at the moment of Consecration that the Bread & Wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
So Catholics are in full Communion with Jesus by actually receiving Jesus, as Communion is Spiritual food for our souls.
Other Churches reduce this to a mere meal, so therefore although they are Christian ( followers of Christ ) they aren’t in full Communion.
So in that light they are seperated, from full union with Christ.

[quote=Shibboleth]I am not totally understanding your question but here goes…

Of course catholic and Catholic are two different things. I think some people posting either missed this or are unaware of the difference. Small ‘c’ catholic stands for the universal Church of all believers that are Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy spirit and abide by all that is included in that Apostles Creed. Big ‘C’ Catholic is common name for the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic faith is such that the only True Church is the Catholic Church and all others are incorrect even though they indeed contain Christians.

The protestant denominations view is such that all churches belong on the catholic church – we are subdivisions if you will of the same one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. As the original poster stated the Catholic church is just one more subdivision of the church of all believers. Once you realize this distinction you become utterly aware of the fact that the argument of 30,000 denominations is silly to a Protestant. We may have 30,000 subdivisions in the catholic church but the Catholic Church is also one of them. I guess that makes it 30,001.
[/quote]

Sixteen centuries of Christianity separate these two definitions. St. Paul’s letters are full of admonitions to maintain unity. Christ’s prayer was “that all may be one” (John 17). When St. Ignatius of Antioch, was being taken to the Coliseum under Roman guard to be thrown to the lions for his Faith in 107 AD, he wrote to the Smyrnaeans: “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” He considered only those “within the sanctuary,” obedient to the bishop as to the Apostles, sharing the same Eucharist, to be “the Catholic Church.”

To the Trallians, Ignatius wrote: ". . .cling inseparably to God Jesus Christ, to the bishop, and to the precepts of the Apostles…do nothing without your bishop, but be subject also to the presbytery (priests). To the Ephesians, he wrote: “Let no one deceive himself: unless a man is within the sanctuary [the Church], he has to go with the Bread of God [the Eucharist]. . . one should look upon the bishop as upon the Lord Himself.” He urges, “continue in your flawless unity, that you may at all times have a share in God.” Ignatius wrote to Polycarp, Catholic bishop of Smyrna, “Be concerned about unity, the greatest blessing.”

The Apostles and their disciples meant one thing when they spoke of the Catholic Church, and Protestants mean quite another. A new definition of ‘church’ and of “catholic” was invented in the 16th century to accommodate the myriad of conflicting and competing ecclesiastical communities that developed, based on the doctrine of “Sola Scriptura.”

Christ founded only one Church. He called it simply “the Church” or “My Church.” It was unique and needed no other name. The Apostles and/or their disciples called it “Catholic” to distinguish it from the heresies that had begun to develop by the time the NT was written. There were those inside the Catholic Church – the orthodox (right) believers – and the heretics outside.

The Catholic Church is not a denomination. She is the nomination from which all other ecclesiastical communities calling themselves “churches” ultimately denominated.

JMJ Jay

[quote=Shibboleth]The protestant denominations view is such that all churches belong on the catholic church – we are subdivisions if you will of the same one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. As the original poster stated the Catholic church is just one more subdivision of the church of all believers. Once you realize this distinction you become utterly aware of the fact that the argument of 30,000 denominations is silly to a Protestant. We may have 30,000 subdivisions in the catholic church but the Catholic Church is also one of them. I guess that makes it 30,001.
[/quote]

This is a real question, so try not to laugh too hard-

Do most Protestants consider Catholics to be part of the same one holy, catholic, and apostolic church? My impression from many Protestants I know and from some on this forum is a resounding “NO”.

[quote=mark a]This is a real question, so try not to laugh too hard-

Do most Protestants consider Catholics to be part of the same one holy, catholic, and apostolic church? My impression from many Protestants I know and from some on this forum is a resounding “NO”.
[/quote]

The problem arises in the fact that the most visible and outspoken Protestants are the Fundamentalists. Some in this group view the Catholic Church as not only separated from the church of all believers but the scourge of the earth from which I am sure that you have heard all kinds of horrid remarks.

I think some of the predicament stems from a certain enmity that has formed because of language from both sides. Look at the post from Katholikos, which is more or less true from the Catholic point of view. I think that some of the Protestant denominations did it in retort, “IF I am not part of your Church, then fine you are not part of mine.” Lutheran’s forgive both points of view.

Lutheran’s and most other Protestant denominations view the Catholic Church as part of the catholic church and not a Church of God that has since become heretical. “I am your brother Joseph.”

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