I’ve just heard something that is absolutely amazing: there are some protestants that AGREE with the Catholic view of salvation by faith AND works!! Is sola fide not as strong of a protestant doctrine as it used to be? This happened this past weekend when I was discussing the CC with my girlfriend (who is Baptist). I’d really appreciate comments on how I handled the situation etc…, but first some background: We’ve been dating for a while, but rarely get into really deep theological discussions. Partly because I don’t like to initiate dialogue that is going to turn into a catholic vs. other argument. I always try my best to answer her questions and if I can’t, I look them up and get back to her ASAP. This past weekend, however, there was a great chance to really open the doors of communication and discuss the role of Catholicism in my life without making it confrontational or demeaning to her.
I basically started by reiterating how the CC was formed (founded by Jesus, apostolic succession, Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture). I think she has sort of the contemporary “non-denominational” mind set of “anything that leads to Jesus is holy and fully good, one way is not better than another.” So I tried to explain how contradictions in beliefs cannot be good and are unbiblical (why would God tell group A that ‘x’ must be believed to attain salvation but group B must believe in ‘y’?). She took it in all rather well and could at least see where I was coming from. She didn’t agree that the CC contains the Full Truth and other religions only partial, and she asked if I thought that that meant Catholics have a special place in Heaven or are some-how privileged. I used an analogy (I’d really like comments to see if other Catholics would agree with this or find fault in it) to try to explain the catholic view of Truth and truths in other faiths. I used the mountain metaphor since some people have made the analogy of “many paths up to God, each equally valid” and I wanted to refute that. I said that if God were on the mountain top, He has given us equipment to make our journey easier (rope, crampons, walking sticks etc). These are truths. The CC has the full truth, so those in the CC have all the equipment available to use. Other religions have less gear to choose from, but [usually] enough to make the arduous hike. However, even a catholic who is “bad” may not opt to use all of his/her equipment and may in fact have a harder time than somebody who has less at his/her disposal but makes use of more. I’m sorry this is so long winded. Here are the main points in short:
*]There are fundamentalist protestants who deny sola fide and agree with the CC!
*]How to initiate dialogue (and “plant the seed”) while maintaining patience and respect for the other person and at the same time avoiding a “versus” conflict.
*]Advice for dialogue with those who do not believe there is ONE church that is more than all just “faithful Christians” throughout the world.
*]Using analogy to explain where the truth can be found in the CC and out of it.
[/list] Thanks for comments and discussion!