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Evangelicals and Catholics: Let's Celebrate Our Similarities

Evangelicals and Catholics: Let's Celebrate Our Similarities

My perspective as a convert to Catholicism
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The Eucharist (Communion). Transubstantiation is a big word that means that the bread and wine at Communion literally become Christ's body and blood. When I was an evangelical, this was one of the most difficult concepts for me to grasp as I explored and studied Catholicism. Frankly, I thought it was a bit hokey until I started reading explanations from the Bible and church fathers. The most powerful is in John 6:25-71 when Jesus told those gathered that they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. When the disciples questioned him, Jesus confirmed that he had meant what he said. Some of his followers were so turned off by the idea of eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood that they abandoned him. Catholics believe that if Jesus had actually meant for the elements to be merely symbolic, Jesus would have gone after the deserters and reassured them.

Bridges of mutual understanding

Let's be clear: I don't expect to convert anyone via this article (my mom, by the way, now will attend mass with me—but she remains firmly evangelical). Instead, my intention is to help create some bridges of understanding for evangelicals about Catholics—bridges that go two ways. Having participated in both fellowships, I can attest we both can gain much from each other. Catholics could use evangelicals' help in building community (small groups, for example) and approachability (such as making the mass more accessible to newcomers). Similarly, evangelicals might look to their Catholic brothers and sisters for how to appreciate the Christian church's history and how to incorporate meaningful traditions in worship.

If Christians want to follow the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) and win people for Christ, we need to band together. Does that mean we ignore our differences and pretend they aren't there? No. But rather than fixating on our differences and making enemies of each other, through accurate mutual understanding we can build on our shared convictions and can together be powerful messengers of the gospel.

Download TCW resource, "The Protestant-Catholic Divide," to learn more about interfaith dialogue. Also read about what Pope Benedict XVI's papacy meant for women on TCW's sister site, her.meneutics.

Christy Scannell is a freelance writer and editor living in California. She is the co-author of the three-book series, Secrets from Lulu's Café. christyscannell.com.

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Dave

February 27, 2013  12:27pm

Christy is spot-on. While there are important differences for Catholics and Evangelicals to continuing discussing, these should be 'kitchen-table' chats between occupants of the same house of Christianity (to use C.S. Lewis' excellent metaphor). For either group to accuse the other of evil is blatantly un-Christlike. With love, we must both bear quiet witness to what we understand to be God's truth, and humbly seek better understanding of truth. As we all draw closer to Christ, we will draw closer to one another.

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Barbara Brooks

February 27, 2013  5:40am

I see many educated evangelicals leaving their churches for Catholicism or the Greek Orthodox church. Usually they have an underlying longing for ritual and reverence. However, what is the trade off? In the Catholic Church the lay people cannot decide how funds are spent, remove immoral priests or make any major Church decisions. Is that ethical? Obedience is a virtue, but it isn't a blind, top-down thing in the New Testament. A person who joins the Catholic is joining forces with an organization that refuses to allow its members to expel ungodly priests or decide financial priorities. Isn't there a better way to fulfill the longing for ritual, reverence and timelessness than partnering with one of the least transparent, most autocratic churches in history?

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Andy

February 26, 2013  6:00am

We must distinguish between individual Catholics, on the one hand--and *official* Catholic dogma, on the other. Rome *officially* teaches (and this is affirmed by the priesthood) the idolatrous worship of earthly objects--bread and wine--as literal manifestations of Christ; and teaches that the eucharist is a *perpetuation* of the sacrifice Jesus made at the Cross. In other words, *official* Roman dogma *denies* the sufficiency of the Cross to pay for sins. That is anti-Gospel on par with the error that was made by the Galatians. Every Protestant and Catholic concerned about the conflict should study this epistle closely. But *not every individual* Catholic believes Rome's false doctrine, and therefore within the Roman church, true Christians can be found. But the Roman church, *officially* speaking, is a *cult*.

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