This is a good question. I think that as it is understood by many evangelicals, it is too individualistic. However, a “personal relationship” doesn’t exclude others necessarily. For instance, I have a “personal relationship” with my wife–but I relate to her also as the mother of my daughter, as my sister in Christ, as my professional colleague, etc. In other words, personal relationships are part of a broader community. When they are isolated from that context, they become unhealthy and eventually die or mutate into something monstrous. This happens in marriage just as it does in religion (the “nuclear family” is, if taken on its own, just as destructive as nuclear weapons).
If person A has “a personal relationship” with person B, that tells you absolutely nothing about the relationship person A has with person C.
So if a Christian claims to have a personal relationship with Christ, you can not tell from that statement what the relationship between that person and anyone else is (including other Christians) is. You can not logically assume that it means “Just Jesus and me and no one else”.
I know exactly what you’re saying. That type of thinking can be dangerous. It can lead one person to say “I don’t need a church. It’s just me and Jesus!” Which we all know is very bad. This type of thinking, I believe leads to many more offshoots in Evangelicalism specifically and Protestantism in general.
I really don’t understand what the big deal is. Why would you not personally want a relationship with Christ? If Christ is your brother why would you not want to get to know Him on a personal level? When we pray to Christ and ask Him for the most personal and intimate things in our lives don’t you want to know who you are asking? A personal relationship, like one with your spouse, means that you give everything of yourself to HIM. You, personally, give your life - your soul - and all you have to knowing and following Him. If He is to have this kind of hold and power over your life wouldn’t you want to know who you are giving that to?
I view Christ as the my Savior and you can’t get any more personal than that.
Well, Catholics do have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as his entire family.
As written in Matt 11:48-50
But he answering him that told him, said: Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? 49 And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he said: Behold my mother and my brethren. 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.
The Catholic understanding of the relationship to God is a covenant relationship which Jesus Christ has established in His New Covenant.
This covenant is family. To explain this further, when a man marries his wife for his love for her. He does not have a relationship with his wife alone. He is introduced into her family, her father and mother, and from that introduction, he develop a relationship.
This is the Catholic view of mankind’s New Covenant with God. It does not deal with Jesus alone but his entire family. This include the saints on earth, the saints in purgatory, and saints in heaven, as well as our relationship with angels.
How often you hear Catholics view that Mary is our spiritual mother, Jesus as our brother, God, as the Father, and the fellow Christians as our brothers and sisters. Jesus did in fact call God, Our Father.
Compared that Protestant concept of having a personal relationship with Jesus, which have neglected for the help of the saints by asking for their intercession as if they don’t exist, and that those saints who died in Christ just don’t stop caring for us when they die.
Their love for their family on earth does not end upon death but continues in heaven. Since they cannot communicate to us, they therefore pray for our behalf. Their spirits are immortal and as such, they have a will. They aren’t just up in heaven worshiping God alone.
Remember, Jesus did say. “You shall love God with all of your heart and mind., You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Clearly God is aware that we must love others not just God himself.
I, too, have drawn this conclusion when being asked this question. I can’t tell you exactly what brings me to this, but it is always the same, in my experience.
Here is my relationship with Christ:
“You are my King”
“I am Your unworthy servant”
“Please forgive me”
“Have mercy on me”
“Your mother is Blessed”
“Your Saints are holy”
“You are the Truth”
“Your Church is my home”
“Those in your Church are my brothers and sisters”
“I depend on EVERYTHING from you”
My favorite prayer is the Apostle’s Creed. That all sums it up.
So, do I have a personal relationship with Christ? Yes. It comes to me from His Church. Outside of that, I don’t need anything else.
If you don’t know His Church, then you don’t know Him. The definition of “personal relationship” always seems to fall short when I ask what they are actually talking about.
You must have skipped over where Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the light and no one enters onto the Father except through me”. Where does that include anyone else?? When Jesus told the whore who washed his feet with her hair, it is your faith that has saved you, there wasn’t anyone but her and Jesus involved in saving grace. There are many instances in Scripture that suggest a personal relationship with Jesus. Have you ever been down to the bottom of the barrel before when dark seems darkest??? Seriously. When that ray of hope finally comes, you know in your heart that it is just you and Jesus in the deepest darkest part of night.
The CC acknowledges that fully and professes in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. When a Catholic ask saints to pray for us, is not the same that we worship God.
It’s much like when I ask fellow Catholic to pray for me in my behalf. I do not believe those who died in Christ are separated from us completely since by God’s grace they have been saved.
Where does that include anyone else?? When Jesus told the whore who washed his feet with her hair, it is your faith that has saved you, there wasn’t anyone but her and Jesus involved in saving grace.
Rev. 1:4 – this verse shows that angels (here, the seven spirits) give grace and peace. Because grace and peace only come from God, the angels are acting as mediators for God.
Rev. 5:8 - the prayers of the saints (on heaven and earth) are presented to God by the angels and saints in heaven. This shows that the saints intercede on our behalf before God, and it also demonstrates that our prayers on earth are united with their prayers in heaven. (The “24 elders” are said to refer to the people of God – perhaps the 12 tribes and 12 apostles - and the “four living creatures” are said to refer to the angels.)
Rev. 6:9-11 – the martyred saints in heaven cry out in a loud voice to God to avenge their blood “on those who dwell upon the earth.” These are “imprecatory prayers,” which are pleas for God’s judgment (see similar prayers in Psalm 35:1; 59:1-17; 139:19; Jer. 11:20; 15:15; 18:19; Zech.1:12-13). This means that the saints in heaven are praying for those on earth, and God answers their prayers (Rev. 8:1-5). We, therefore, ask for their intercession and protection.
Rev. 8:3-4 – in heaven an angel mingles incense with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne of God, and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. These prayers “rise up” before God and elicit various kinds of earthly activity. God responds to his children’s requests, whether made by his children on earth or in heaven.
There are many instances in Scripture that suggest a personal relationship with Jesus. Have you ever been down to the bottom of the barrel before when dark seems darkest???
The Apostles love Jesus and after his ascension, they remain steadfast. They didn’t go around Isreal saying. “You need to have a personal relationship with Jesus.” Instead, they proclaimed, believe in the Jesus Christ, be baptized in the Name of the Father, and Of the Son, and Of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus also instruct them to teach them everything that He has taught them.
Seriously. When that ray of hope finally comes, you know in your heart that it is just you and Jesus in the deepest darkest part of night.
Jesus is the Light of My Life. I know enough about Him that he established Only One Church upon Peter. He established no other Church.
I would have to agree with both Contarini and Harpazo.
As human beings, it’s not possible for us to have a relationship without it being personalized. Just the fact that each of us is different, with our own talents and weaknesses, is evidence of the fact that we each have a personal and unique relationship with God. And one of the wonderful effects of Jesus becoming man is the fact that we CAN have an individual relationship with Him. My relationship with Jesus is different from someone else’s because we are two different people, not because Jesus is different for each of us. My sister has a different relationship with me than my roommate does, not because I’m different, but because they are different from each other. This is, of course, an imperfect analogy, but you get my drift.
However, a misunderstanding about this concept is undoubtedly responsible for serious errors in how some people approach their faith. Regardless of our individual relationships with God, we are part of a community, and losing sight of that can be disastrous. My relationship with my sisters and brother affects my relationship with my other family members. It is no different with our faith.
Mother Angelica says, “God loves you as if you were the only soul in the universe.”
I can think of no better way of expressing how God relates to each and every one of us. I can think of no better words to inspire us to relate to God as He desires us to.
Properly understood and lived, some Protestants’ language of a “personal relationship with God” is just another way of referring to the way Catholics have been taught to relate and have related to God since the earliest times – in terms of intimacy (as to a father, brother, friend, spouse). In their lives, the saints are such great examples of intimacy with God that the actually rather cold expression “personal relationship” hardly does justice to them.
Imagine if a man said, “I have a personal relationship with my wife.” Would he sound as if he were in fact very close to her – why should not the phrase when applied to God not sound as distant and distancing? To my ears, the question “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” sounds as impersonal as “Have you bought an insurance policy?”
The trouble with the expression “personal relationship with God” is that it appears despite itself to reflect the individualism and narcissism of modern society.
The phrase often lends itself to an agenda to break from community and tradition (“Just me and God” leading to “Do-It-Yourself Churches”). Coupled with Sola Fide, with salvation disconnected from what Catholics call “spiritual and corporal works of mercy,” the phrase could well encourage one to a life insufficiently oriented to one’s neighbor.
Really, Nella, I’m sorry to say this, but you make me ashamed to be an Anglican. Mind you, it’s a nice change to be ashamed of an Anglican who sounds like a fundamentalist, instead of an Anglican who sounds like a Unitarian, which is my more normal experience.