Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Roman Catholic Church, and Other Christian "Ecclesial Communities"

The recent statements from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have stirred up some good (I think) conversations. Paul calls us to dialogue and mutual edification (see Romans 14).

Before I go further, let me say this about my convictions. Defining faith for Christians is focused on "Christ and him crucified, and risen from the dead."

So I believe there are true Christians among every denomination and Christian creed, including the Roman Catholic Church. And many fellowshiping with these groups are not-yet Christians, though they may conform to some outward appearances and practices.

Do I agree with the statement issued by the Congregation, that only the Roman Catholic Church is the true Church, because only it has the historical ties back to Peter? No. But I'm grateful that in God's sovereignty we can discuss it openly.

This is still the old Reformation discussion. Is the Church founded on the preaching of the Word of God and the priesthood of all believers as citizens of God's kingdom -- by His grace alone? Or is it defined by bishop-by-bishop generations going back to Peter, upon whom Jesus promised to build His Church?

Not every position can be perfectly right. In the sight of God, we need to strive for understanding. There are billions of souls not yet in the kingdom of Christ, and the Lord of the Harvest is waiting for us to participate.

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