Ministering to a Protestant friend

Hi everyone

I’m a newbie here and need some advise about the best way to minister to a freind of mine. Allow me to give you some background.

First, about me. I am 47 and a cradle Catholic. I am very involved in my parish from lector and cantor, etc to partoral council and one of those folk who just do things around the place. I should also mention that I am divorced. This is where the other person comes in.

8 years ago when my wife and I seperated, I met a woman my age in a divorced persons forum on the 'net. Her divorce had just become final. She was half way across the country from me. Over the years we have become great friends, as close as brother and sister. However we have never been romantically involved. My friend’s marriage had broken down on several fronts, one being my friends sexually active lifestyle and lack of marital fidelity, as well husband beat her her over her life style. I know these fact to be true as I’ve visited her on occasion. Over the years I knew that my friend had a spark of hope in her to turn her life around, so I stuck by her, at times even helping her financially (her husband got almost everything) with things like utility bills. Over these years my friend drifted into an extreme sexual lifestyle of which I did not approve (and shall not go into). I prayed over the years that she would leave these activities behind. At times when her lifestyle would bite her, as such activities will do (her boyfiend cheating on her, etc), and she would call me in tears, I’d advise her to return to church. I specifically told her that Iwas not saying to go to a Catholic Church, but to return to the church of her birth, that being Assemblies of God, or any protestant denomination she felt happy with.

Well the years rolled by and finally it happened. She realised the sin of her promiscuous ways, left the guy she had been involved with, moved to other end of the state she lived in, and started going back to church, an evangelical protestant one. Along the way she also got a job at a Catholic nursing home.

Over the years I’d share various glimpses of the Catholic faith. As a result, it is safe to say that she at least has a healthy respect for the Catholic Faith. She actually has a great admiration for Mother Theresa of Calcutta. She has also started to dive into some pretty serious Bible study.

Okay – so there’s some background … .I can finally get to what the question is! On Saturday night, I got an email from her with a subject that would not expect to be coming from and evangelical: Do These Passages Show You Can Lose Your Salvation? . This email was addressed to her family and various evangelical friends, and me.

To quote it:

*I would suggest to you that the Bible does not teach eternal salvation, although it sure would be nice if it did. The Bible warns Christians that they can “fall from grace” (Gal. 5:1-5), be “cut off” from salvation (Rom. 11:18-22), have their names removed from the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 22:19), by committing certain sins and not repenting of them (cf. Eph. 5: 3-5; 1Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19, Rev. 21:6-8). In a chilling reminder of the possibility of losing salvation by separating oneself from Christ, Paul says, “I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:27).
*
–end quote.

Well I about fell off my chair! This opens a whole can of worm for her, and I emailed her (and not the whole list of recipients) and told her so, joking that she had better be careful as she sounded almost Catholic there and would come in for serious discussion.

I urged her to read all that she could about this issue from apologetics of all traditions including that written here at Catholic Answers (which I forwarded to her).

Now I would never push her toward becoming Catholic, for she must make it there in her own way. I would however welcome her with open arms to the fullness of faith we share.

So – how best to proceed. Have I done what is right? She hasn’t really responded apart from expressing an interest in email Bible study among all of us in her list of contacts. By including me in this list is she looking for me to contribute a Catholic view?

I realise that her newly reformed faith is still a fragile young thing, and I don’t what to shake her out of it totally by having her feel that everything she ever learned was built on the imperfect interpretations that are protestantism.

Any advice?

Tony P

Hi Tony,

Well, It doesn’t look like there is much advice on this one, but I will give it a shot.

I think you did the right thing. The best way for her to come to the truth is to find it herself with your guidance. She is thinking now, and thinking along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit can only lead one to Catholicism. As long as she is open to it she can continue to read and pray, and she will eventually come around.

I am also a cradle Catholic, however I came to a point in my adult life where I began to question, and look for answers. Whenever I came to a question that I was sure would crush my faith in the Catholic Church I found the opposite to be true in the end. Looking at scripture and history, and understanding it totally is the best thing that could ever happen to increase ones belief in Christs Church.

Do you know where she got this new idea of salvation? Did she just notice this in her own bible reading, or did someone point it out to her? If she found it on her own than I think she is well on her way.

Help her to answer her questions one at a time, simply by offering your point of view.

Hope it goes well.

Is it your sense of her e-mail that she was making the bold assertion that OSAS isn’t true? Or is it that she is hoping that one of her Protestant friends will be able to show her that it is true?

If the former, it may be that her friends will come back with perhaps overly aggressive responses. After all, she just took a pretty big whack at one of their foundational doctrines.

If the latter, she may be be looking for any reasonable response that will bolster her existing belief system.

In any case, she may need help sorting through their responses with charity and clarity. Depending on the testosterone levels of their responses, you may not want to participate publicly in the back and forth.

I also find it useful to show the continuity of belief back to the early church fathers. Catholic Answers has some tracts on Salvation at:
catholic.com/library/salvation.asp

And don’t forget to pray a lot for grace and guidance in this effort.

Hi Tracy

Thanks for your reply. To answer your question, I am not sure how my friend came to her new idea about salvation. I am of the opinion that once a person begins some really serious and open minded Bible study they will begin to questions some notions of Protestant theology. Therefore as my friend is an intelligent woman, and really “into” her Bible study effort, she may have a) come up with this question on her own, or came across it in her travels.

I do know that a few weeks ago she had metioned that she was looking for samples of Bible stidy websites, and I told her to look here at Catholic Answers and to study up on apologetics. Maybe … just maybe … a seed was planted :slight_smile:

I responded to her inquiry about participating in her Bible Study email group by stating that I didn’t know if I would be all that welcome among her friends and family, all evangelicals, as I may at times state Catholic ‘challenges’ to things such as Sola Scriptura.

I wonder if her wanting me to be a part of that group is a sly of way of wanting me to do just that!

In Christ’s Peace

Tony

Hi Veritas

Yep – I think that the proverbial light went on about OSAS. And, as I cautioned her, she has opened up a can of worms.

She included her parents in her questioning email, and I can be quite sure that as they a really strong AofG followers, she may have gotten a rather, shall we say, interesting reply from her father. That’s one I’d sure like to see!

I’ve been trying to think this over. Would any Protestant denomination venture so far out on limb to make such a claim? Perhaps among Episcopalians, maybe Lutherans, but among Evangelicals? This really does kick legs out from under a table!

Now granted that Protestantism is so divided over interpretation amongst all the 40,000 plus denominations, I suppose anything is possible.

BTW – I did clip the tract from here on Salvation and emailed it to her. I haven’t heard a peep about it … yet!

In Christ’s Peace

Tony P

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