Non-Catholic vs. Non-Chrisitan


#1

The question I am throwing down on the table is: What is the benchmark by which the Catholic Church delineates between when an erroneous view renders one a non-Christian (as opposed to rendering one a heretic, but not necessarily a non-Chrisitan).

I reviewed the thread on whether the Catholic Church regards Mormons as Christians. It is my understanding that the Catholic Church and most Protestant churches do not consider Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses to be Christians.

Hence, while a Calvinist or Lutheran would be regarded as heretical on certain issues, he would still be considered a Christian; whereas, those who deny more fundamental doctrines would render themselves non-Christian.

It is my understanding that the benchmark is the Nicene Creed. I am interested in whether anyone can cite a magisterial statement indicating this (other than the creed itself) and any other thoughts or insights on the matter.


#2

“All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #818


#3

If someone who is so incorporated later proceeds to deny, let us say, the divinity of Christ, or the Trinity, or the afterlife, is that person still to be regarded as being a Christian simply because he calls himself one?

If we don’t draw the line there, then where do we? Or, do we draw a line at all?

What if someone baptized in faith decides that Christ never actually existed, and that Christianity is nothing more than a system of meaningful stories to inspire the community? Does he remain a Christian simply because he was once baptized and still calls himself a Christian? Is belief in God also optional?

Words signify categories, and to define a word is to delineate the boundaries of the category it signifies. Unless there are doctrines without which one’s religion cannot be accurately be described as Christian, the word Christian is devoid of any actual meaning.


#4

E,

You’ll need a Catholic to answer those questions.

-C


#5

Vatican II has more…

See Decree on Ecumenism, paragraph 3

But I don’t recall the term “non-Christian” ever used in magisterial documents. The basic teaching is those who have been baptised with a valid Baptism (with water, in the name of the Trinity) are “Christian.” Therefore, JWs, Mormons, would not be Christian by that definition, since their baptisms are invalid. Other definitions of “Christian” (such as simply disciples or followers of Christ, Acts 11:26) would exclude them since they have the wrong Christ (rejecting the Nicene Creed, etc).

Phil P


#6

Eagle << Unless there are doctrines without which one’s religion cannot be accurately be described as Christian, the word Christian is devoid of any actual meaning. >>

I agree, your basic “biblical” definition of Christian would be a follower of Christ (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16; etc). If someone is baptized in the name of the Trinity (Matt 28:19) and believes in Christ, they are Christian. Other Protestant denominations put other meaning on Christian, basically defining it as someone who is “truly saved” or to specific beliefs of the Creeds you must hold to (which aren’t explicitly spelled out in the Bible).

The other terms to look up are “heretic” and “schismatic” and “apostate” which I believe are the more Catholic terms, rather than simply “non-Christian.” The term “non-Christian” would be applied to other world religions. Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism would be “non-Christian” religions. :cool:

Its my understanding once someone is properly baptised, and leaves the Catholic faith in some way, they are either lapsed (means you cease practicing, miss Mass, etc), heretical, schismatic, or apostate. The latter three I believe have specific definitions in Catholic theology.

Good EWTN article on heresy, schism, apostasy

Phil P


#7

[quote=Calvin]E,

You’ll need a Catholic to answer those questions.

-C
[/quote]

Actually, I would contend that my question is one with which all Christians must come to terms.


#8

My understanding of Baptist theology would then render them “non-Christian”, would it not? I have a Baptist friend who doesn’t believe that Baptism is necessary for salvation. Is this a blanket belief of all Baptists?


#9

<< My understanding of Baptist theology would then render them “non-Christian”, would it not? >>

No, since one is baptised into the Catholic Church, even if they don’t believe in the baptism of the Catholic Church, or even if one rejects the Catholic Church and her beliefs. The Baptist “baptism” makes them a member of the Catholic Church, implicitly. This is because there is only one visible Church. Correct me if wrong, but I think that’s the Catholic teaching.

Yes, most Baptists that I know of don’t believe Baptism “saves” or is necessary, it is only a symbol of conversion that one does after one “becomes a Christian” in obedience to Matt 28:19; Acts 2:38ff; etc. The Lutheran or Anglican belief in baptismal regeneration comes closest to the Catholic view.

Here is the historical view of the Church

Phil P


#10

Phil,

So then, Baptists get baptized, but it’s out of obedience, rather than necessity? Even if they don’t believe it’s a prerequisite of salvation, since they do it, it’s efficacious?


#11

[quote=Slow Burn]Phil,

So then, Baptists get baptized, but it’s out of obedience, rather than necessity? Even if they don’t believe it’s a prerequisite of salvation, since they do it, it’s efficacious?
[/quote]

Yes to the first, no to the second.

In anabaptist theology, baptism would not be called efficacious because they do not see anything spiritual happening during the ceremony. Baptists usually describe baptism as a “outward sign of an inward grace.” It is purely symbolic. The decision to “put faith in Christ” is the only efficacious thing in anabaptist theology – sola fide. Everything else you can do or not do and, if you do, you can do as many or as few times as you want. I’ve had friends who have been “re-baptized.” My own brother, a pastor, once said “we could do communion with potatoe chips and Pepsi if we wanted to.” Anabaptists take a very* lessiez faire *attitude towards sacraments (usually called “ordinances”) because they don’t see them as efficacious at all.

When I was a child, my parents were very concerned that I put my faith in Christ at an early age. They were less concerned with baptism. So I put my faith in Christ at age 5 but didn’t get around to getting baptized until I was 16. There was nothing wrong or unusual about my situation in our congregation. I remember asking about baptism and they told me I didn’t have to do it because I was already saved. My first theological debate came about when I was about 9 and my Lutheran elementary school teacher told me I was “going to hell” unless I got baptized. But I digress…

Now one point in defense of anabaptists, they usually will teach that all Christians should get baptized. I think this instinct is a hold-over from Catholocism. They usually explain the reason we should do it as “that is what they did in the Bible.” So Baptists aren’t running around telling people not to get baptized (although they would admit that one doesn’t HAVE to get baptized).

Now there are “reformed baptists” but that is another story…

-C


#12

SlowBurn << Even if they don’t believe it’s a prerequisite of salvation, since they do it, it’s efficacious? >>

Yes, that’s my understanding of Catholic teaching. The Baptist would indeed be “born again” at their Baptism (assuming its a valid water Baptism, in the name of the Trinity), it is efficacious at Baptism (even if they don’t believe that). That’s what baptismal regeneration is, and its true for Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and even Baptists. “There is one Faith, one Baptism, etc” Eph 4:4-5. And one universal (Catholic) Church (Matt 16:18f), and one becomes a member through Baptism (1 Cor 12:12f; Rom 6:3-4; Acts 2:38f; John 3:5; 1 Pet 3:21, etc), and the unanimous teaching of early Christianity (the Fathers, etc) affirms that.

Phil P


#13

Calvin, I think he was asking what the Catholic position is on the Baptist baptism. The Catholic position would be that their Baptism is efficacious (i.e. regenerational) even if the Baptist themselves don’t believe that. Unless I misunderstood his questions… :confused:

Phil P


#14

They deny a basic tenent of historical christianity, the trinity. If you reject a basic tenent such as this (this is essentially one of the first dogmas defined) then you reject historical christianity…


#15

[quote=PhilVaz]Calvin, I think he was asking what the Catholic position is on the Baptist baptism. The Catholic position would be that their Baptism is efficacious (i.e. regenerational) even if the Baptist themselves don’t believe that. Unless I misunderstood his questions… :confused:

Phil P
[/quote]

Oops!

Yes I may have mis-read his question.

Disclaimer: my last post was how Baptists view baptism not how Catholic should view the Baptist baptism.

-C


#16

The way Phil put it was the way I was asking it, but I still appreciate the dialogue.

Also, Richard, who denies the Trinity? Not Baptists? To my knowledge the only “Protestant” denomination that denies the Trinity is “Oneness Pentecostalism”? And I guess the Catholic Church wouldn’t even view them as Christian (much like JW’s and Mormons). Correct me if I’m wrong.


#17

[quote=Slow Burn]Also, Richard, who denies the Trinity? Not Baptists? To my knowledge the only “Protestant” denomination that denies the Trinity is “Oneness Pentecostalism”? And I guess the Catholic Church wouldn’t even view them as Christian (much like JW’s and Mormons). Correct me if I’m wrong.
[/quote]

It’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny the Trinity. They think that Jesus was really Michael the Archangel and not God the Son.

Mormons believe that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three seperate beings.

I don’t quite remember about the Oneness Pentecostals, though. They have a skewed understanding of God. I’m not quite sure if what they believe is Modalism (God is one Person with three offices).

I do know that the Shepherd’s Chapel teaches Modalism though.


#18

[quote=Calvin]In anabaptist theology, baptism would not be called efficacious because they do not see anything spiritual happening during the ceremony. Baptists usually describe baptism as a “outward sign of an inward grace.” It is purely symbolic. The decision to “put faith in Christ” is the only efficacious thing in anabaptist theology – sola fide.-C
[/quote]

This is an interesting statement because sacraments are defined as a “physical sign of an invisible reality.” Yes, we are saved by grace at the time we profess faith and if we die before being baptized, we are still saved. However, when we profess faith, we have a responsibility to get baptized into the family of God, much like the old covenant children who were circumcised into the family of God.

As far as being efficacious, it’s similar to (although on a very minute level) eating our vegetables. We are told that if we do, our body will be healthier. Even though we don’t see anything really happening, we know something is. Through the sacraments, God pours out His grace for us to receive. We cannot see anything happening, but something is.

Is baptism necessary for salvation? I would imagine only God can really make that judgment. However, when scripture and the Church clearly state that to be the next step, I’m listening. :yup:


#19

[quote=Britta]This is an interesting statement because sacraments are defined as a “physical sign of an invisible reality.” Yes, we are saved by grace at the time we profess faith and if we die before being baptized, we are still saved. However, when we profess faith, we have a responsibility to get baptized into the family of God, much like the old covenant children who were circumcised into the family of God.

As far as being efficacious, it’s similar to (although on a very minute level) eating our vegetables. We are told that if we do, our body will be healthier. Even though we don’t see anything really happening, we know something is. Through the sacraments, God pours out His grace for us to receive. We cannot see anything happening, but something is.

Is baptism necessary for salvation? I would imagine only God can really make that judgment. However, when scripture and the Church clearly state that to be the next step, I’m listening. :yup:
[/quote]

Doing Protestant theology is like breeding dogs. (Mind you I am a Protestant! :wink: ) If you take one breed and mate it with another, you get a third type of dog that combines elements of the first two but is, itself, something different. So most Protestant theology has some points in common with Catholic theology even if the result is “different.”

I am a Reformed Protestant and we would confess that “grace is mediated through the Sacraments” which is closer to the Catholic doctrine than the “purely symbolic” stance of Anabaptists. I have personally argued with Baptists on what happens during baptism and communion and suggested that there is “deeper mystery here than you realize, whether you intend it as a symbol or not.”

I, too, trust God will sort it out in the end. I just think it is sad to see so much division until then. Surely this isn’t what Christ intended when he prayed “that they all may be one.”

Either something happens during the sacraments or it doesn’t. I want to know what the answer is because my very soul might depend on it.

-C


#20

[quote=Calvin]I, too, trust God will sort it out in the end. I just think it is sad to see so much division until then. Surely this isn’t what Christ intended when he prayed “that they all may be one.”

Either something happens during the sacraments or it doesn’t. I want to know what the answer is because my very soul might depend on it.

-C
[/quote]

I completely agree. What I don’t understand is that since the bible clearly states we are to be baptized…what’s the problem? If nothing happens, then so be it, there was no harm. But if something does happen (which is my belief), then you have the effect. Makes sense to me. http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon14.gif


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