Monday, September 26, 2011

Roamin' Romans

I've been making a practice of putting away the Catholic material for a day or two each week. On these days, I get into the New Testament & read what Protestants of all shapes & sizes have to say about Catholicism on various blogs & forums. There are a lot of "proof texts" & arguments flying around, but everyone seems to have the same thoughts over the "big issues"- Mary, purgatory, scripture + tradition, salvation by works + faith, authority of Rome, etc. I must admit, I have the same concerns. However, I've yet to find many worth listening to because I don't get a sense of love from most sources- Instead, I find judgment & superiority & all those things that would make someone reject an argument on the basis of it's delivery. I don't want truth sold to me. Show me a person who can speak the truth out of genuine love for Christ & for others & I might be more inclined to listen.

Anyway, this past week, I began to wonder about the Catholic "Plan of Salvation" & felt led to read Romans. If there were any book of the Bible to proclaim a death knell over the basic precepts of Roman Catholicism, it would have be Romans. So far, I can see no reconciliation between the two & I'm up to chapter 8... I know the Word is spoken in mass on Sundays & I know the calendar of reading takes the community through the Bible over 3 year's time. Clearly, Romans is heard by all in attendance at some point, but is it really "heard" with the heart?

In light of this, I'm not prepared to abandon the process of inquiry just yet... I can see there's clearly a difference in how Catholics respond to the Word, but I need to know why. It seems according to their view, salvation is found within continual participation in the sacraments rather than a "personal" relationship with Jesus. They don't seem to believe in one point of salvation- instead, it is a continual action, a journey whose fruit can be snatched away at any time & counted loss for eternity. I admit, I've believed this myself, way before my exploration began. I still have trouble with eternal security. But Catholics seem to live in a specific kind of fear & doubt... Things done are for safety's sake, to stay right with God so they'll have a shorter stay in purgatory & maybe make it to heaven. Their faith at times seems more like an investment in fire insurance... (Hmm. Where have I heard that term before?) One conclusion I HAVE come to is that we are all guilty, Catholics & Protestants, of reducing salvation & relationship with Jesus to rules, consequences, & reward scales. Heaven forbid that we should ever lose sight of our Lord & His love for us even for an instant...

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