Not dependent on a church, only on Christ

I always read and hear this argument from Protestants who say that Catholics put too much emphasis on the Church and not in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ…

Also, they argue that all the Church’s “traditions” and “legalisms” interfere with Catholics ability to develop a “personal relationship” with Christ…

What do I reply to this? Also, how does one develop a personal relationship with Christ in the Catholic Church?

Thank you for your advice!

As a Catholic, you have the most intense, personal relationship with Jesus of all Christians. You witness the miracle of the mass. You can spend time in His presence. You eat His Body and drink His Blood. They have no idea what they are missing, or talking about.

Jesus founded a Church, not a loose body of believers. Jesus gave all authority to that Church. He declared it to be the final arbiter in all disputes. It is His mystical Body on earth. See Matthew chapters 16 and 18. Jesus said “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven” Amazing power and authority. Paul even said so in 1 Timothy 3:15.

Ask them where the bible came from - who wrote it, who tested the numerous writings that were considered, who had the authority to include writings and to exclude writings, and under what authority was it preserved. The Church.

Those who do not see this have been lead far astray by the spirit of division.

We have more than a “personal relationship” with Christ. Ours is an “personal and intimate relationship”, can’t get much more personal or intimate than consuming the The Body of Christ.
Ask them why they don’t believe John chapter 6?

I’d be careful about asking them about John 6 unless you’ve studied up on it first…


The “traditions” and “legalisms” of Catholicism are merely the frameworks. We don’t get to being loyal to the Pope, giving your tithing, helping the poor, etc. We get to heaven by loving God with the very same love he first gives to us. The Church merely points out what is true and false, so that we may love God more abundantly and carry out his will.
The Eucharist, for instance, is a love story. It’s a covenant that supersedes all human imagination. We, who God holds in the palm of his hand, are humbled to accept God as he veils himself in bread and wine, to be held the palms of our priests’, deacons’, servers’, and communicants’ hands. Reconciliation is an external and sincere disposition to amend your life. It is how Christ chooses to absolve us in ordinary circumstances-- through a priest, in person. All things that the Church declares are out of love. Sometimes it’s tough love, but nevertheless it is out of love.

As Catholics, we are at our closest to the Lord when we receive the Holy Eucharist. A closeness Protestants cannot fathom. Your personal relationship with the Lord is YOUR personal relationship, how could they possibly know what interferes with it. There are many levels of belief when it comes to “believing in our Lord” Protestants choose to not believe in his real presence.

My personal relationship with our Lord has grown 10 fold after reading the Catechism, books such as Scott Hahn, and even this CAF forum. There is so much info out there, just search depending on your particular needs or interests. Don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of info, all you have is time.


I would point out that the only time there is an apparent “emphasis on the Church” is when we are discussing theological and doctrinal matters with our protestant brothers. Within the Church community the emphasis is very much on Christ.

As others have pointed out, as Catholics we have a very intense and very personal relationship with our savior because we can see Him, touch Him and take Him physically into ourselves. We can kneel down before His actual Physical presence and pray. We are able to do all of this in addition to what the protestant can do which is to carry Jesus spiritually with us in our hearts.

Also, they argue that all the Church’s “traditions” and “legalisms” interfere with Catholics ability to develop a “personal relationship” with Christ…

I certainly can see their point about legalisms being a problem for some. But these are generally people who are still very young in their faith. St Paul in 1 Cor 3 speaks to this when he says, "*1 But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it;… * The idea of rules and “legalisms” is that these things provide the boundaries and guidelines needed by “babes in Christ”. Just as a Parent begins teaching a toddler to obey even before they understand why.

As to Traditions…This will need to be better defined since the Protestant might be thinking of something very different by the word tradition than what a Catholic thinks of.

What do I reply to this? Also, how does one develop a personal relationship with Christ in the Catholic Church?

Spend time with Him in Silence, in prayer, in daily talks, in studying Scripture, in living the life of Love and sacrifice. All of these things will draw one closer to Christ.

Thank you for your advice!

You are welcome


I feel the Church is a manifestation of Christ’s relationship with us.

Since the Church is the Body of Christ, I fail to see how you can build a close relationship to Him without building a close relationship to His Body.

Bold Lettering Mine

You say - gee golly! You are quite right! I wish **I **had the choice of picking one of the 40,000 protestant churces that says what I want them to think to attend!:rolleyes:

No , no, --perhaps not… Deep sigh…

I wouldn’t be so quick as to say that. Perhaps mention that God wants us to follow his commandments (John 14:15), then proceed to say that such is done by loving God (Matthew 22:36-40). Lastly, show them how to love God in scripture (1 John 3:18). How are we to love God in deed and truth if we do not know what is good and truth? We look to the Church (1 Timothy 3:15). God demands love, because to love is to live. If he did not demand we love him, he would be indifferent if we die.
Pulling out a red herring isn’t a tact way of proving the point; at least, not in my experience.

A few words from a convert, (cue loud sighs)

When I was still protestant, I had a “coming to Christ” moment. A particular moment in time, when I realized God’s gift to me (Grace and offer of salvation) and chose to follow Him. Before this, I was just giving lip service to following Christ. About a year after this event, I felt led to investigate my beliefs. God led me to the Catholic Church.

When most protestants refer to a “relationship with Jesus” it means taking one’s faith seriously. Growing in faith or maturing in faith is what they recognize as a relationship/coming to Christ.

The problem with protestantism, as I experienced it, was we were believing someone else’s theology while rejecting the Church’s theology. We rejected 1500 years of history in favor of our own interpretation. As a protestant, I was happy to condemn empty lip service by others, because I had done the same at one point. Problem is, who knows another’s heart, who is qualified to judge another’s actions? Answer… Not me.:eek:

If you want to tackle the “I love Jesus, I don’t need a church” mentality you need to do two things. First, get together on terminology. If you can’t understand what each other means, there will never be constructive dialog. Second, they must admit that they are using someone’s theology, besides their own. Most interpretation is done by a pastor or known Bible scholar, why are they accepting somebody’s teaching? The heart of the issue is rejection of the Catholic Church, why do they reject it?

History is an unstudied area in most protestant circles, they don’t realize where the Bible came from and who the early Christians were. This will play a key role in helping them understand the need for the Church.

Hope this helps!

A year and a half ago, my wife and I left the church we had attended for several years and have been de-programming. The church we went to pushed being ‘plugged in’ to various and sundry weekly activities that keep you bouncing from pillar to post and leave you exhausted and burnt out. Since leaving, the Lord has drawn me to study the Sermon on the Mount, and to apply Jesus’ teachings to my life. During this time, a hunger has grown in us- the need for a community of like-minded believers. Trying to live a Christian life without the support of other believers is like trying to exist in a vacuum. We were both raised Protestant, but some of our support came from Catholic friends who didn’t judge us, just loved us unconditionally. Rather than berating us to ‘get into a church and get busy’, they invited us to attend Mass with them-which we did, and were floored! I believe the Mass is the most beautiful, Christ-centered celebration either of us have ever been in. Anyone who tells you they are independent of any church is deluding themselves-take it from someone who has been there!
Dependence on Christ is a given, but we all need the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ as well.

Amen! May your journey reach its spiritual conclusion in the unity which our Lord so fervently prayer for.

Gee golly, I don’t have that choice anymore than you do.


I don’t see anything in the Catholic Church getting in the way of my personal relationship with Jesus. To the contrary, I see the sacramental life in the Church as giving me many opportunities to deepen that personal relationship by accepting all of the graces that the Lord has given me.

I think there is not just one way to develop a personal relationship with Jesus as a Catholic. The relationship - by definition - is going to be unique for each person. But the Church offers so many opportunities. Scripture reading and scripture study, all of the sacraments, eucharistic adoration, retreats, volunteering to serve Christ through service to others, community involvement, sharing the Gospel with others, promoting a Culture of Life, etc. etc. The Church has so many ways to grow in a relationship with Christ.

I think people who say the Church get’s in the way of a personal relationship with Jesus simply haven’t taken the time to look at what the Catholic Church really is. They are, in essence, attacking a straw man.




I suppose you could ask for some clarification from the critic. Hmm? Really? What tradition do you think interferes with my personal relationship with Christ. What do you mean by “legalism” and what is an example of a “legalism” that interferes or hinders my personal relationship with Christ?

And, if I’m putting too much emphasis on Church (which is the Body of Christ), where do you think I should put my emphasis? On something that is NOT the body of Christ? How would that help me build a personal relationship with Christ?

Finally, you may want to ask them if they believe that a personal relationship with Christ excludes others, or should it not also include all those who are brothers and sisters in Christ? In other words, is a personal relationship with Jesus a relationship that excludes all others, or is it one that is inclusive of others? (IF the former, ask them to explain how a “just me and Jesus” relationship is biblical?)

In the words of James Joyce, the Catholic Church is, “Here comes everybody.”

=pabloSD;8904583]I always read and hear this argument from Protestants who say that Catholics put too much emphasis on the Church and not in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ…

I suspect you understand without me saying that this is not the view, I would say, of most western non-catholics. I believe virtually all Lutherans would agree that there is a important, biblical and historical role for the Church. It is where we hear His word -quite biblical - and receive the means of grace in His sacraments - also qute biblical.

Also, they argue that all the Church’s “traditions” and “legalisms” interfere with Catholics ability to develop a “personal relationship” with Christ…

Frankly, I would ask how they know what does and does not interfere with a Catholic’s relationship with Christ. It just seems presumptuous. There are lots of Catholics I know who seem to have quite a strong relationship with Him.

What do I reply to this? Also, how does one develop a personal relationship with Christ in the Catholic Church?

I’ll let Catholics answer this.


1 Timothy 3: 14-15 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

You kindly let them know that this is what Christ wants you to do and where Christ wants you to be. Then ask them exactly how they understand you not having the same, or lesser, or higher relationship with Christ.

Why do they understand you to not have a relationship like they are, since you are in communion with Christ as as He is leading them, He is leading you.

God Bless,


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