Today at lunch my Mennonite family persisted on bringing up my conversion, which I was very uncomfortable with. I'm starting to get tired of their would-be sympathy. It's a hillarious thing I've noticed among Evangelical-Catholic relations these days. The "Progress" consists of Evangelicals telling 3 types of stories:
1. The Accidental Protestants
This story generally consists of a 'godly bible believing Christian' (Evangelical) meeting a Catholic and then finding out that they use phrases like "Believe in Jesus" and "personal relationship with God" or "Saved by Grace", and they then assume that by the Divine Providence of the almighty, glory hallelujah the Catholics actually don't believe Catholicism, they believe Evangelicalism. They just like pictures and statues, but for all intents and purposes average joe Catholic is a Christian in their eyes because God has been gracious enough to make them accidentally Protestant and their hope at the end of life will be their anti-Catholic Protestant beliefs that they held while in the communion of Babylon.
2. Saved By Sola Fide
I have a friend from bible school who when she talks about denominations says "I don't care what you call yourself if you believe in Jesus you're saved". This is an interesting approach because at first it sounds open and ecumenical. But when you dig deep you find they really mean this : "I don't care what building you go in, as long as you believe what I believe, you'll be going to heaven" (salvation by sola fide, with extrinsic, imputed righteousness, with no saved church before Martin Luther, etc).
3. Trent Erasers
Finally there are some who have read recent Church History or books like Mark Knoll's "Is the Reformation Over?" where he declares Protestantism has won in Vatican II Trent is defeated, the Reformation is over. (His book on the American Military Victory of Vietnam will be coming out shortly - sarcasm). These folks think that because we utter the mass - still the greatest blasphemy in human history according to Luther - in English, that somehow makes it alright. God can now understand it, so even though it's blasphemy it's ok. They also fail to note that absolutely none of the doctrines of Catholicism were even touched by Vatican II, Trent and it's anathemas still remain. In fact Vatican II states itself that those who willfully separate themselves from the Roman Catholic Communion are jeopardizing their souls. But many simply take the nice wording Catholicism has used post-1960 and assumed that Trent isn't an issue anymore. I told a friend Michael that you can say we are saved by loving Jesus and it's the theological equivalent to saying we are saved by working for Jesus. Love and works are interchangeable in New Testament theology, it's just that one sounds nice.
So ultimately I decide not to talk with Evangelicals now about Roman Catholicism because the only way they will declare me a Christian is if I jump through their linguistic hoops and use their phrases. Then and only then will they say I might be a Christian but only because I'm an "evangelical Catholic" (a confusing term indeed). I definately take alot of my theology from my Evangelical Protestant upbringing but I wish to make no mistake with them, I am 100% Catholic. If I'm an Evangelical Catholic, I'm also a Papal Catholic, a Marian Catholic, a Tridentine Catholic. I also don't care whether some Anabaptist who has raped 2000 years of Church History just to play guitar solos in their sunday morning service, thinks I'm a Christian or not. With St. Thomas More I can say, my conscience is clean, I have stayed faithful to Christ's Church, a small merit amidst an ocean of my sins and faillures.
An old man (Evangelical) I met on a walk in the woods the other day tried to "save" me by telling me about Jesus only to be shocked that I'd heard his message before, I gave him my Evangelical Resume (Baptist Upbringing, Bible reading, Capernwray, Preaching, etc) and left out the Catholic part, he was 84 and I didn't want to bother him. I laughed though as I left, what a strange religion, he had a 2 minute plan to save me, Sola Fide seems more and more ridiculous to me each day, God's greatest plan for humanity was to get them to believe someting happened in history. No wonder Protestants believe Guttenburg was practically a messiah, the world could evidently be saved by teaching children in history class that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and then move on to the reigns of Augustus and Octavian. There's the master plan, man remaining in sin, believing something and being covered with an alien cloak of righteousness, God sneaking theives and murderers into his own house. Personally I'll take purgatory, purification, holiness, and a changed heart and life.
Sorry that this blog was so offensive to Protestants - especially Anabaptists - but please try and understand before you get angry yourself, that I've heard these 3 narratives so many times it's infuriating. The end is, I'm a Catholic, I follow the Pope, he's my earthly Shepherd, I confess my sins to a priest, I chew on Jesus' flesh, and I believe he will make me a saint. Throw in other words like "evangelical" if it comforts you, but as for this Papist, i'm Catholic and proud. (and as triumphalistic as Chesterton at this time of night).