I was talking with a friend today about religion and she said that the only thing that matters is having a personal relationship with Jesus. I told her I disagree and that being an active part of the body of Christ matters. She said good works come from first having that personal relationship. I told her that one can do good even when there are doubts about salvation. I don’t think I explained myself very well. I don’t know how to talk to protestants of that variety. What do you say?
I find this situation most difficult. Forms of OSAS are still out there and many subscribe to it wholeheartedly. Like anything else, there are pious people and ones that are not so much. You definitely have to be charitable-- Let’s say that you were one that believed that you are saved because when were younger you told Jesus that “you accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior” so now you’re saved and now your job is to get others to “accept Him too”. The Great Commission, right.
Now, some Catholic comes up and says “hey, you’ve been duped your whole life; you may not “make the cut” because you could be in a state of mortal sin”. How do you react? This is why I say you have to be charitable because you’re delivering a message that threatens their entire perception of faith.
I think a good starting point for you to help organize ideas would be to read Numbers chapters 9-11 and notice how the Israelite people (who were chosen or “saved”) but continued to commit grave sins were punished with death (condemnation). Then read 1 Corinthians 10 and notice how Paul (New Covenant) continually refers to these stories to
make his point to the Corinthians about persevering in the battle unto the end. Notice verse 11 carefully.
Hopefully you can find something in here useful. Good luck and may God bless your efforts.
I have always wondered exactly what “a personal relationship with Jesus” means.
Jesus commands us to worship in a certain manner. John 6 is a good start. Revelations is a good place to point someone who wants to read about heavenly worship. “The Lamb’s Supper” by Scott Hahn is a quick and great read on the subject of the Mass ( which is heavenly worship).
Explain to your friend that the Church has been worshiping God is relatively the same manner for close to 2,000 years. (here come the posts refuting the mass and how different it is and it is not the same). I say hogwash…read the church fathers…all the essential elements were there 2,000 years ago. The rubrics have changed but not the essentials.
There is nothing more personal than the Eucharist.
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A personal relationship with Jesus means a personal relationship with his Church. There is no more intimate relationship with Jesus than receiving him in the Eucharist where we become truly one with him, confessing our sins to him and being forgiven. We are actively and intimately involved with the person of Jesus Christ in a real relationship. No one has a more personal relationship with Jesus than does a Catholic.
You can start by agreeing with her that all good works come ultimately from God; that we can do nothing good without him. And then invite her to explore and discover this incredibly wonderful relationship which is found only the Catholic Church.
Be as absolutely agreeable as you can possibly be without compromising your faith. Build up unity with her on where you are able to do so.
Once you reach the point where you disagree, challenge her to go deeper. Ask her what it means “to have a personal relationship with Jesus” and then explain to her what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus with the Catholic context.
As far as I’m concerned, a personal relationship with Jesus has never been about not being a part of the church. Most people who express their faith in terms of a “personal relationship with Jesus” met Jesus in a church, possibly responding to an altar call. Part of having a personal relationship with Jesus is “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together.” It is bearing one another’s burdens, praying for one another, and being the body of Christ to the world.
This is what I wrote on another thread:
This really has nothing to do with being “anti-organized religion.”
23 And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
This is a personal relationship with Jesus. Not a one shot deal and not an every now and then deal. It’s a daily thing.
The Holy Eucharist. She has no idea.
I always wonder what this “personal” relationship with Jesus is like in the Protestant context. There is no way one could have an impersonal relationship with Jesus. You either have a relationship or you don’t. Fortunately for Catholics, we get real close to Him by participating in the Eucharist which Protestant don’t. Perhaps you can probe further to find out what kind of “personal” relationship is she experiencing or is it just another superfluous word.
Many people of other faiths or no faith also do good works.
Even in the protestant context, she’s wrong. She’s spouting off what we call “easy believeism” or, perhaps even worse, “cheap grace.”
What’s she’s missing is that, even for most protestants, that personal relationship is expressed, primarily, in three ways:
1 - We talk to Jesus in prayer.
2 - We allow Him to talk to us in the Scriptures.
3 - We serve Him in the context of a local church.
She’s also missing that we are admonished directly by the author of Hebrews to, “not neglect to meet together.”
I’m going to put it plainly: She can’t claim to love Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him if she isn’t willing to do what He says.
I hate to speak for your friend, but many Protestant of the fundamental camp believe they Catholics do not have a “personal” relationship with Christ. That is so far from the truth that if they really knew just how close we are to Christ they would never utter that again.
You can completely agree with your friend on the personal relationship as being the thing that matters. In our relationship with Christ we have to work at it. If you get into a friendship with someone and then never call them or be there when needed, I am pretty sure that friendship will die. The same can be side about our personal relationship with Christ. Many fundamentalist Protestants believe their personal relationship is their asking Christ to come into their heart and save them from the fires of hell. They try to live for Christ and walk in the footsteps He step before us.
SO…do Catholics have a personal relationship with Christ? SURE WE DO! We are members of the Church that He established on earth. We partake in the Holy Eucharist that we gave to us. We have Christ still on the cross in our Churches to remind us exactly what He did for our sake.
We are able to meet Christ at the altar. It doesn’t get much more personal than that.
Exactly! I wonder if the OP’s friend even goes to church? If she doesn’t go to church, how did she learn that she needed a personal relationship with Jesus? The Bible? How did she learn that she needed to read the Bible? An angel from heaven?
That’s a great way to put it.
Originally Posted by ltwin
This requires us to commune with him ourselves. “God has no grandchildren,” as the saying goes. In other words, we cannot know God indirectly through the experience of others, like our parents or biblical figures. We cannot bum off of the spiritual inheritance of our ancestors. God wants to reveal himself to us, personally. He wants to speak to us.
That’s a great way to put it.
hmmmm…having a relationship with Jesus on your terms. Sounds a bit prideful and selfish…doesn’t it?
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I so far have only been asked that question once. My answer was, Yes, I have a very personal relationship with Jesus and it is Personal.
No more questions after that.
What gave you the idea that I was saying the “personal relationship” was on our terms? Jesus wants us to know him on his terms. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6.
No man gets to the Father but by Jesus. This means that indirect means—like the faith of my parents/family, religious leaders, or society at large will not work. I have to have faith in Christ for myself. I have to obey Christ for myself. My parents or grandparents, my pastor, my political leaders will not have to answer for how I have lived my life–I will have to stand before God by myself. That is why I have to know Christ for myself, personally. It is not enough that I live in a Christian home or society. If I have not had my own conversion to Christ, then I have nothing.
How is it selfish or prideful to want people to understand that they are responsible for their own eternity? How is telling someone that they must come to Christ themselves wrong? Or that they must repent for their own sins prideful? That the faithfulness of their parents or their membership in a particular church is not enough to wash away their sins?
Perhaps you are thinking that “personal relationship” somehow means moral relativity, that we can just do whatever we want as long as we have some ill-defined “relationship with JC?” I can assure you, most evangelical Protestants would consider that kind of “relationship with Jesus” no relationship at all.
The evangelical concept of a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus, is modern Western, individualistic terminology unknown to the writers of Scripture and the early Church.
Our relationship with Jesus is intensely personal. That is true, but it is not exclusive.
The often cited verse for this is when Paul said ‘Christ in you, the hope of Glory’.
The problem is that in the Greek that Paul used it is plural, not singular.
It should read ‘Christ in YOU ALL, the hope of Glory.’ The Church is not made up of isolated individuals, but members of the mystical body of Christ Himself. Paul said we are “members one to another”.
Here is what evangelicals must wrestle with:
Jesus gave two very clear commands to His Church, Baptism and the Eucharist.
One cannot baptize oneself, it requires another person. Recieving the Eucharist requires another person, even if its a priest to a shut-un.
Christianity is corparate, not individualistic.
There was an old evangelical hymn called ‘Me and Jesus on the Jerico road’, or something like that. Giving the impression that our relationship with Christ is exclusive to an individual person. That is why they think they can ‘worship at home’ in the privacy of their living room listening to a preacher or sacred hymns.
Jesus gave a very clear worship COMMAND that requires other human beings. Not a ‘Lone Ranger’ christianity.
Catholics have a personal relationship with Christ. We know Him as Lord and Savior, we are members of His Body (how much more personal can one get?), we pray to Him, we worship Him, we adore Him, we seek to follow Him.
More importantly, receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ into our very person is pretty darn personal.
This is amazing. I always wondered how to respond to these challenges, especially in the past 3 years–I won’t go into details. I’m saving this one.
This is an excellent explanation of a a core concern of Evangelicals over the past 200 or so years. I’d go so far as to say that, up until perhaps the 1960’s, this was the concern behind the idea of “having a personal relationship with Christ”. In my parents’ generation, much of the population was raised with at least a nominal Christian upbringing, and so the Evangelical concern was to help people realize that God wants more of us than just cultural Christianity, or a compartmentalized Christianity. For those too shy, perhaps too humble, to believe that the Maker of the universe desires to enter into their lives intimately and to individually call them by name, the Evangelical emphasized that YES, God does want to have a very personal relationship with each of us. For those who believed that little more than the cultural inheritance of baptism and church attendance was asked of them by God, the Evangelical concern was to emphasize that God wants our entire lives, every room in our hearts, not just a few compartments in our hearts.
I don’t think there’s anything in the above paragraph, about preaching a message of intimacy with God, that a well taught Catholic would take issue with. ( But I could be wrong.:D)
Unfortunately, as Western society as a whole has become less religious and there is less Christian culture for people to be raised in, the mistaken notion of “having a personal relationship” being about individualism does sometimes come up. But, that’s a misunderstanding of what was the original meaning of the phrase, and any decently taught Evangelical should know that.
What the OP’s friend said brings to mind something that seems to be a growing trend, and I’m wondering if anyone else noticing this ‘movement.’ I just got into another debate with yet another person making the same statements. They all say the same things:
- Jesus hated organized religion (with an indirect implication that because of this, He did not start any Church while He was living on earth as a man.)
- Salvation is possible outside the Church (directly contradicts what priests tell you–that there is no salvation outside the Church.)
- Stop going to church.
Is it just me, or is something going on here? I’d be curious as to what scripture they base statement 1 on, in particular.
They claim to be Christians, and yet the sole purpose of this movement seems to be to pull Christians out of the Church. Is this new or am I only now catching on? I’m seeing this will a great deal of frequency now. Anyone else?
Edited to add: This seems to be the natural, inevitable, unavoidable outcome resulting from putting all faith in two things: 1) That salvation requires only the utterance of a phrase that appears nowhere in the Bible (someone quoted it above), and 2) Sola Scriptura.