The Christian faith is the largest system of belief across the world, but it is also the most fractured. With so many groups that claim to follow Jesus Christ, the idea of doctrine has lead to who can validly claim the title of Christian. Even the Roman Catholic Church is under such scrutiny. Is this a valid accusation? There are four main questions to ask.
Do They Worship The Trinity Of God Alone?
It is clear in the scriptures that there is only one God, and that He is “the Lord your God […] You shall have no other gods before [Him],” (Exodus 20:2-3). Some would claim that those who practice Catholicism essentially believe that Mary is a mother deity, and the multitudes of saints are lesser gods that are worshipped. The biggest problem with this idea is that Catholics don’t worship saints or Mary, but merely ask for prayers. They worship God alone. In fact, Catholics find the idea of actually worshipping the Saints or Mary blasphemous.
Does Christ Alone Pave The Way To Salvation?
Many Protestants believe that Catholics cannot be Christians on the basis that they do not believe that Christ can save them. In fact, the general idea is that Catholicism claims one’s works and actions in this life are the paths to salvation. While it is true that some Catholics place these things as an idol in their life, this is not how it is supposed to be. Critics attack the emphasis on works, but they seem to lack one crucial Scripture. James 2:14 states “My brothers, what use is it for anyone to say he has belief but does not have works? This view is unable to save him.” From the Scriptures itself, it is clearly stated that belief and works are necessary to being a Christian. Any belief in Christ without the willingness of change or works is, by definition, unchristian. Therefore, Catholics do sincerely believe in Christ being the only path to salvation, but they also understand that there is more than just a spiritual belief in salvation.
Do They Repent Of Their Sins In Christ?
The idea of salvation in the Christian faith comes down to faith and repentance. John the Baptist told the world that Christ was coming and that all should, “Bear, therefore, fruits worthy of repentance,” (Matthew 3:8). Repentance is key, but what does that entail? Sin is destructive but temporarily pleasing and hard to escape. It’s an addiction, and the very first steps to breaking any addiction are acknowledging that there is a problem and then deciding to walk away from it in daily life. Therefore, Christians have to acknowledge that they have a problem and walk the path of Christ instead. Protestants repent on a personal level while Catholics admit their sins in confession with a priest and live their new life in Christ in the rights of Catholicism. Therefore, despite the different way that they display it, Catholics are Christians in that they repent in Christ alone.
Do Catholics Follow The Word Of God?
To many outside of the Catholic faith, the answer would be simply “No.” They would argue that this practice contradicts this passage and so on. However, consider how they were ultimately the ones who assembled the word of God into one tome of eternal wisdom: The Holy Bible. This is the exact same text that all Christians base their faith upon. They assembled and followed and protected the word throughout all of history in an attempt to save the world. They follow the Scriptures above all else.
While the jump to the conclusion that Catholics are not Christians, couldn’t it be argued that any Christian branch for strips away meaning from the Bible or puts words into the mouth of God in one way or another? However, this article is not to poke holes in the faith of anyone, but highlight one crucial fact: the Christian faith is broken. Christ himself even declared, “if a house is divided against itself, that house is unable to stand,” (Mark 3:25). It is true that some who claim to be Catholics are not Christian, but in every sect of the faith there are those who place on fake faces for Sunday morning and show their ugly selves in the cover of night. No one is perfect, but if we can instead consider how we can represent Christ in our daily lives, then perhaps we can be truly unified once again.