04. Search Me
05. Above All Else
06. Majesty And Mystery (Awesome God)
08. There's No One Like Our God
09. Captivated
11. Turn Your Eyes

For more about Vicky Beeching click on her name in on the links list or check out www.vickybeeching.com

Thursday, March 17, 2005

It's Personal

I would like to make a distinction between Religion and Faith.


1. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
2. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
3. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
4. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
5. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.


1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
often Faith Christianity.
4. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith. (I don't like this one, you can have faith in a system, but the system itself isn't faith)
6. A set of principles or beliefs.


Hebrews 11:1
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

There are those that would call themselves Christians because they go to a Christian Church, they pray, they are nice people. But if that is all it is, doing things that are considered Christian, this is Religion.
The Christian Faith however is more than just doing things that look or sound Christian. It is having a Relationship with Jesus Christ. Loving the Creator of the Universe, the Lover of our Souls!
Romans 3:10,23 "There is no one righteous, not even one;.....for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 10:8-9 "But what does it say? 'The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with you mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him (Christ) from the dead, you will be saved.'"

How can a person say and believe this in their heart, without having a personal relationship, without loving Jesus Christ. It is impossible, it cannot be done.

Religion is a set of Rules to be followed and things to be done so that we can gain entrance into heaven/eternal life. Look at every major religion....you have to do things to earn your salvation.

True Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, He has commanded things of His followers, but His followers do these things out of Love and Respect for their Lord and Savior. Jesus would love them just the same if they didn't follow all the commands. Also as stated above, there is no one who can keep the commands...."All have sinned." But it is Love and Faith (Trust) that what Jesus did on the cross (dying for the sins of everyone), and rising again 3 days later was for us. And this trust in Jesus is credited to us as righteousness. We choose to accept the free gift by following Christ or we choose to reject the gift and try to earn our way into heaven (religion).

Faith is hard, religion is easy. But what are the best things in this world? Are they not the things worth fighting for? Relationships are hard because we must fight through differences, but the rewards from relationships far outweigh the injuries from the fight.

Fight for your Relationship with Christ, Fight for your Faith!

In Christ,


Blogger Gregory said...

Religion, which is a vain struggle to do everything right in the hopes of pleasing a deity, is easy?
Faith, which is putting our trust in God to do all the work for us...is the hard one?

I'm curious what you do with verses like "So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been...work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for His good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work" (Philippians 2:12-13). It seems to me that, over and over in the New Testament, Jesus and His Apostles are telling us that Faith requires obedience and work...or what you seem to have termed "religion". The difference between Christianity and all the other religions of the world is not that Christianity isn't a religion--but it is the only religion where God actually helps us do what He tells us to do. This is called Grace.

And yeah, there are a lot of people who call themselves Christians who won't make it to Heaven. They're part of the Church, whether we like it or not. Jesus told us they would be, in His parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). Unfortunately, Jesus also tells us we won't know who the "good guys" are and who the "bad guys" are until the end: "If you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until the harvest; then at the harvest time I will say to the harvesters, 'First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn." (See Jesus' interpretation in vv. 36-43.)

Religion is not the enemy of faith. It is how faith is lived out.
God bless.

Fri Mar 18, 11:24:00 AM PST  
Blogger Mark 1:17 said...

I am not saying that we need to remove the good from the bad or the other way around....I just want to point out that following the rules of a "religion" is not what will get anyone to heaven. Romans 3:10 "None is righteous, no, not one,"
Following laws wont cut it....but, it is easier for to wrap our human minds around this concept of earning our way to heaven, that is what I mean by easy.
Faith, from a human stand point...believing in something that you can't prove to someone unless they have experiance it, is a lot harder. Especially to communicate to another.
I don't know how I feel about your last statement, on one hand I see where you are coming from, but on the other, Religion is something that people can get stuck in. They don't move from their into a personal relationship with Christ. And in this way it can become the enemy....a person can have all the head knowledge of the Christian Faith (so do all the demons) but if they don't enter into a relationship with Christ, that knowledge is of no use to them.
Paul is the perfect example of this.
Sorry for the confussion!
In Him,

Fri Mar 18, 11:39:00 AM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

True enough. It's two sides to the same coin.

I just have met too many people (and I used to be one of them) who see "dead" religion, and go to the other extreme, and try to dissociate Christianity from the term "religion", because suddenly "religion" is a bad word. Either-or doesn't cut it. It's a both-and scenario. If we claim to be "religious" without the relationship, we're as lost as if we claim to have the "relationship" without the religion. That's what I meant by my last thought in my last comment.
God bless

Fri Mar 18, 12:46:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

Oh, I forgot to mention...I noticed in your profile that you liked The Passion of the Christ. You should check out my blog, http://www.waywardheart.blogspot.com. I'm just finishing a Lenten series on the movie, looking at different topics highlighted by it.

Fri Mar 18, 12:48:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

So I looked up "Religion" at dictionary.com, since you had the link in your Ethics post, and it seems that's where you got your definitions for "religion" and "faith". I noticed, though, that dictionary.com said that "religion" is a synonym for "faith". So your own definition authority contradicts the message in your post...What do you do with that?

Mon Mar 21, 09:03:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mark 1:17 said...

1. A word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or other words in a language.
2. A word or an expression that serves as a figurative or symbolic substitute for another.
3. Biology. A scientific name of an organism or of a taxonomic group that has been superseded by another name at the same rank.
4. n : two words that can be interchanged in a context are said to be synonymous relative to that context [syn: equivalent word]

The 2 words can mean the same or nearly the same, but also are in a given context.
If the context is post-modernism, the era that we are currently in (or just leaving, it's debateable), then any word that could possibly mean faith, religion, path of enlightenment,ect. can all mean exactly the same thing.
I don't believe that this is the case, there is only one "path" and the road is narrow, that "path" is through a personal relationship with Christ alone.
"Religions" become institutionalized, look at Luther, He was a Great Man of God! But a religion with his name was started, his faith was amazing, but people took that and made it into rights and rituals, a religion.
Faith is much much more than religion can ever be! Religion is impersonal, Faith is personal.
As to the question you asked about the source that I quoted, well, it was developed in the post-modern era, I do the best with what is availible...and so far I haven't found anything better. But with the definitions that it gave for synonym, and with what I have just written, I stand my ground that religion (while it can bring you to faith in Christ) is not faith itself. Faith is not dependant on religion, and religion is not dependant on faith.

Tue Mar 22, 06:10:00 AM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

I don't think that claiming the dictionary is post-modern can get you out of the dilemma. If I really wanted to pursue this, I could demonstrate that "faith" and "religion" were synonyms well before even the Modern Era. The phrase, "I found religion" is a rather old one, but it is cited as proof of the synonymous relationship between faith and religion on your "post-modern" dictionary.

And personally ;) , I don't think faith is personal. I believe that faith, to be genuine, has to be social, has to be interpersonal. Conversely, I don't believe that religion is impersonal. "Religion" as an abstract concept cannot save, nor can 99% of the religions out there. Only the truth can set us free. Jesus, who is the Truth, showed us the Truth, and established His Church as the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth. Read that again--the religious institution called the Church, the collective body of those who follow the Christian Religion, that Jesus Himself founded, is the Pillar and the Foundation of Truth. Why do I say that? Because St. Paul said it first, in 1 Timothy 3:15.
Not the Bible--though it is good and necessary. Not the idea of "The Holy Spirit and me, and that's all I need" even though it is the Holy Spirit Himself who guarantees that the Church stays free from error in issues of salvation. It is the Church that Christ founded that He promised the Gates of Hell would never prevail against, the Church to which He promised the Holy Spirit of Truth to guide into all Truth. The Church which He promised to be with for all time.

And the Church is the "institutionalised religion" of Christianity. And quite frankly, I've heard all about churches saying, we want to do it like in the book of Acts, having a simple religion. Well, I'm sorry, but I don't think they realise just how quickly that "old time religion" took on institutional forms, but St. Paul was already writing to Sts. Timothy and Titus about Bishops and deacons, passing on the traditions they learned from the Apostles, and developing and teaching the faith to continued generations. The hierarchical institutionalised structure of the Church was an organic development of that "simple faith", just as Jesus told us, when He talked about the large Mustard tree that grew from the smallest seed.

If faith is not institutionalised, if doctrine is not formulated, then heresy and false teaching runs rampant. If there had been no institutionalised Church in the early centuries of Christianity, to authoritatively teach what the faith was, then we would not have that faith today. If there was no authoritative Church today, to teach what the faith is, postmodernism would have done us in!

And when fellows like Luther and Calvin left the Church in the 16th century, they started a chain of division and sectarianism (which the Bible plainly calls sin) that has only multiplied today.
The Bible alone philosophy of the Reformation has failed to yield any kind of doctrinal unity. Why? Because while the Bible itself is inerrant, and the very Word of God in print, it is God's passive Word that people can twist to their own destruction. God's active Word is only present when the Living Church takes the Living Word and teaches it authoritatively as Christ commanded it to do.

Thus, faith really is dependent on religion--The True religion that Christ founded: His Church.

Tue Mar 22, 09:24:00 AM PST  
Blogger Mark 1:17 said...

The Church which Paul is talking about is the Body of Christ, All Believers. Not some organization or building. Believers are to hold each other accountable to false teachers and accountable to purity in their lives.
If this is what you mean when you say religion, the body of Christ, then that is fine. But in this world religion has a much different meaning and context, therefore I will not associate religion to the Body of Believers, the Body of Christ, The Church. The Church that Christ founded that the gates of Hell will never prevail against is His Body, The Body of Believers. The Body of Christ is not an Institution, God cannot be put into a box. He is to big and uncomprehendable for that.
I guess what I am seeing here is 2 different definitions of Church. 1. Religion, Buildings, Institution
2. The Body of Believers, The Body of Christ.
I believe that the Church the Christ established to continue untill the day that He would return, is not in the substance of any religion or building, rather it is in the body of believers who cling to His truth, who cling to Christ Himself rather than traditions and rituals. It is all about Christ, it always has and always will be only about Christ.

Tue Mar 22, 10:31:00 AM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

I'm sorry, but I must respectfully disagree. The Institution of the Church is the Body of Christ. You can't separate one from the other. The Body of Christ, the Church, is all about Christ. It always has been, and always will be all about Christ. Saying that His Church, being institutionalised, puts God into a box, is not true. Having rules, structure, and a visible identity is not in any way limiting to God--especially not when it is God Himself who directed the founding of the Structure. I'm not talking about a building--though Church Buildings are great places to enter into worship because they provide a "sacred space" reserved solely for that purpose. But the building is not the Church.

The Church is also more than just the "mystical body of Christ" or the "invisible Church of Believers" that no one can really be sure who else is a part of. How does an invisible church have any sort of cohesive impact on society, especially when it is the visible church that people see and judge. The solution to the problem of hypocricy in the institution is not dissociation from the institution, but living out the ideals of the Faith in your own life, as a member of the Church.

But without an Authoritative Teaching Body (the Church) telling you what the faith is, how can you really be sure that your "version" of Christianity is the right one?

The two of us, both Christians, disagree fundamentally on what the Bible teaches about as basic a topic as Baptism. We both think we are right and that the other person is missing something. This one example demonstrates that more than "The Holy Spirit and Me" philosophy is the correct one, because both of us would make the claim that we are filled with the Holy Spirit. So if the same Holy Spirit is teaching us, why are we differing in opinion? Because it is a subjective thing, based on our own understanding and the influences of others who have taught us from their traditions. Yeah, even "Free Church" Protestants have traditions. The difference is, my tradition is the Apostolic Tradition handed down from the 12 and St. Paul to the Bishops, and, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit operating in the Church, has been preserved and unchanged (though, like a tree from a seed, it has developed) for 2000 years. It is an unbroken Tradition. It is the Catholic Church. And it is soundly biblical.

Tue Mar 22, 08:07:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mark 1:17 said...

And what if the "Authoritative Teaching Body" gets it wrong? Purgatory? Paying money to lessen your or a relatives stay in purgatory? All the Dogma in the Catholic Church?
I also believe in the First Vatican Council it was said that if the Pope decreed something, it was as solid as if it were scripture itself.
I do agree with you that structure is needed, but that is built by discipleship and accountability. Look at many of the "Closed" countiries in the world. The Gosple is spreading like wildfire. Christians are being pursecuted and turned in, they have "underground" house churchs. Not formal churches that are governed by a larger body. If that were the case these churches wouldn't last. They would be found out and crushed by the government of those countries.
Coming together to worship as a large corporate body is wonderful, it is great to see what God is doing in others lives. It is a great opportunity to talk with other believers that you normally don't see during the work week. It is also a wonderful time to be feed from the Word.
This is what the western world calls church. But then what happens? People leave and get on with there week. They don't give God a second thought. Yes, we must deal with these people because they are our neighbors and friends, but, if they don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, they are not a part of His Body, they are not going to Heaven. Just being a member of a "synod" or whatever you want to call it, doesn't give anyone salvation, that is offered by Christ through a personal relationship with Him.
The "Western Churches" are huge with memberships, but I would guess that maybe 10%-15% of these people are truely saved.
The "Closed Country Churches" are small on membership, but I would guess that about 85%-90% or those people are truely saved.
You may be shocked, but I believe that there are a lot of Pastors that are not saved.
The path is very, very narrow. I cannot believe that just because someone belongs to a "synod" they are saved. That would mean that 90% of the American people are going to heave. I don't think so.
There are more missionaries in the U.S. than any other country. There are missionaries from other countries that come to the U.S.
The body of Christ is not "invisible", I just spent a week in NYC and I saw more outreaches than I could count, that is not invisible and they were having an impact. I have spent a lot of time with pastors who have house churches but no affiliation to a dinomination. They were not invisible to there surrounding neighborhood and they had a profound affect on many of their neighbors. They stay solid to the Word of God, they stay accountible to one another, and they disciple others in Truth.
However, I do believe that God does work through both of the two types of "churches". As long as the Word is being preached, the Spirit will be moving. That is how the enemy is adopted as a Son of the King. He hears the Word of God, comes to know the Son through the Word, the Spirit moves in his heart, and he Worships the Son. God cannot be limited as to what He will work through. But the seed must be planted with the Word.

Mon Mar 28, 04:23:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

We believe that the "authoritative teaching body" (called the Magesterium) does not, in fact, can not "get it wrong" because they are prevented from doing so by the Holy Spirit. Disagreeing with them does not mean that they are wrong. It is the Magesterium that from the earliest church on gave us doctrines and guidelines for the faith, for example: What the Bible is and isn't, what books belong in the Bible, Who Jesus is (fully God and fully Man, two natures in one Person and all that fun stuff), Who God is (Three Persons in One Being--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and how exactly that relationship plays out), and the list goes on. Think it through, and come up with "proof" from Scripture that the Bible is our sole rule of authority. You could take my word for it that you can't, it doesn't exist--but I don't want you to.

Purgatory (since you brought it up) is actually a very reasonable and Scriptural doctrine. Think about it--first year theology teaches you (Protestant or Catholic) that only perfect things can stand before God and not be destroyed, and that none of us are perfect when we die. God, in His Love (which, according to Hebrews 12:29, is a "Consuming Fire") purifies us (which is what "Purgatory" means: purification) so that we may be 100% clean and enter fully into His presence the way He intends. Most of us never achieve that level of purity before we die, so Purgatory is that final "rinse cycle" before we meet God. I debated with a Protestant friend about this, and he agreed that none of us die perfect, but we're perfect in Heaven. These two points are indisputable. But, he said, when we die and our spirit leaves our body, that's when we become perfected because it is our flesh that is sinful. Think about that--it's a false teaching called "Gnosticism". If we automatically become perfected just because our spirit leaves our body, then even non-Christians get to Heaven, since "the spirit is good, but the flesh is evil." But we all know that's not the case. There must be something beyond death that finishes our purification, and the Church termed that process "Purgatory." Consider the words of St. Paul: "No one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the works of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one's work. If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved but only as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:11-15, emphasis mine). Our works, those things we do or don't do for Christ, are judged by what they are, how they aided us in knowing Him, and how they aided others in knowing Him. Good works will be rewarded, but the useless stuff, our bad, disordered or sinful works, will be burnt up in God's fire. Whatever's left will be saved (namely us--our salvation is not in question in Purgatory. If we make it there, we know we're going to Heaven!) but only through a painful cleansing process.

Paying money to lessen your or a relatives stay in purgatory was an abuse of this doctrine of Purgatory (which includes the fact that we can pray for people in this state). But the abuse is not the doctrine. Luther was right in condemning the abuse, and the Church corrected it rather swiftly. But the Church never officially taught the abuse.
In attacking "All the Dogma of the Roman Catholic Church", you literally are attacking all the correct teaching of all Christian Churches, because anything a Protestant Church believes correctly is borrowed directly from Catholicism since all Protestant denominations are rooted in Catholicism. Any error in the Protestant churches is always a deviation from the Catholic Church. That is not to say that Protestants agree with all of Catholic Dogma, but that anything we agree on at all comes from the Catholic Church. So in attacking "All Catholic Dogma" you attack the Lordship of Jesus Christ, His Saving Death, His Victorious Resurrection, etc. "But wait" you'll say. "Those are all found in Scripture!" Well duh! All Catholic teaching and doctrine is the interpretation of Scripture that is authoritative and binding. Tradition, Dogma, and the Catholic Faith is entirely Biblical, and never contradicts Scripture. The only difference between that and the Protestant notion is that for us, Scripture doesn't have to spell it out for us to believe it. The Trinity is a perfect example of that. You can look at Scripture now and say, "It's right there!" But that's because the Christian Church wrestled with the dogma for 5 centuries and defined it, and demonstrated how their definition most ably interprets Scripture as opposed to the heresies. Every Doctrine of the Catholic Church is in the Bible at least in seed form, and theologians over the centuries have wrestled with how to best understand what Scripture says. But it is still what Scripture says!

The First Vatican Council defined "Infallibility" as the gift given by the Holy Spirit to the Successor of Peter so that he may teach the Faith without leading the whole Church into error. They explicitly stated that the gift of infallibility only applies when the Pope speaks on issues related to Faith and Morals, and that he must do so exercising the full authority of his office, by speaking "ex-cathedra" or "from the chair" of Peter, to whom Jesus gave the Keys of the Stewardship of the Kingdom (Matthew 16:18,19; cf Isaiah 22:22). But defining the Doctrine is not the same as inventing the Doctrine. It was always taught and believed. It was just given final and ultimate clarification at the Vatican Council.

"I do agree with you that structure is needed, but that is built by discipleship and accountability."

Amen! That's what the hierarchy is!

Yes, let's look at many of the "closed" countries! Catholicism saved more Jews during the holocaust than any other body of people, and more than all of Protestantism combined! Catholicism, under Pope John Paul II, has been called the single most important element in the fall of Communism in the former Soviet Union! Catholicism like Protestantism thrives in closed countries like China. Catholics (and Eastern Orthodox) make up the majority of the Church in the Middle East, where Protestant influence is minimal. In Japan, when Christianity was outlawed some few hundred years ago, the Catholic Church was the only church to survive in the underground, and was still there when missionaries were finally allowed to return in the middle of the last century! The Catholic Church is one of the only Churches actually growing in number throughout the world, and is more than a billion strong. More people are becoming Catholic now than ever before. The only other denomination that boasts any kind of similar growth is the Pentecostals. The Church is able to survive underground especially well since we have such a huge worldwide community that can use political means as well as religious to aid the suffering Churches (The Vatican is an independent country, formed during WWII so it could oppose Italy and the Axis powers, and more effectively save Jews by harbouring them inside the Vatican). Having a visible worldwide Church is not the same as going to a church building for worship like we do in the West. It means that we have a central authority, somewhere to look when we have questions about the world around us (like stem cell research, abortion, birth control, the unfortunate situation with Terri Schiavo, the death penalty, and a multitude of other "grey areas" that divide many Protestants).

Coming together for corporate worship is not only wonderful, but a necessary element of the Christian faith. It is here we hear the Word proclaimed and receive Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, into ourselves, and are made more like Him.

I think you're on really dangerous ground judging the hearts of people. You cannot know where a person's heart is in relation to God. True, some people live rather questionable lives, but that doesn't necessarily make them unsaved. Sanctification is a journey! Besides, even those in churches without faith are still welcome! The Church is a hospital for sinners, after all! As my former Pentecostal pastor used to say, "There's no such thing as a perfect church, an if you ever find one, don't go. You'll only mess it up!" Or, as Jesus tells us, the weeds must grow with the wheat until the final judgement! (Matthew 13:24-30).

Salvation is not based on Church attendance or affiliation! Catholics are the last people to say that! Salvation is based upon living our lives responding to God's grace by our faith and our works, as I've said above. Jesus Himself said that not all those who call Him Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom, but only those who do the will of the Father in Heaven (Matthew 7:21).

By "invisible" I mean that our Christian unity is only something invisible (as opposed to the "visible, institutional" unity of the Catholic Church--a unity for which Christ prayed in John 17). How can Protestant Churches claim to be that unified Church that Jesus prayed for? Or was His prayer unanswered? Protestants usually take the tack that the Church's unity is "invisible" or limited to "core beliefs" or "essential doctrines"--but then, they don't even agree as to which doctrines are essential! The thousands of denominations sundering Protestantism should be an indication that something is wrong, even in the most "Biblically based" churches! St. Paul called this sectarianism a sin on repeated occasions in his letters--see especially 1 Corinthians 1!

I agree that God is not limited as to how He can and will work. If a person is faithful in a Protestant Church, he will be saved! Many Protestant churches have the Holy Spirit active in their midst. The reason I left Pentecostalism isn't because God wasn't there, but that there is more to knowing God and having a relationship with Him than was there in that church. I found the fullness of faith, life, and a relationship with God in the Catholic Church, especially as I was finally able to partake in His Body, the Eucharist, which He commands us to eat for eternal life (John 6:35, 51-54). God meets us all where we are, but there is so much more in His Catholic Church. Yes, it is a shame more Catholics themselves don't realise the fullness that they possess, and take it for granted, or abuse it, or ignore it altogether--but the fullness of Truth is here, in the Church that Christ Himself founded, 2000 years ago--continued in unbroken succession from then 'til now!

Tue Mar 29, 10:51:00 AM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tue Mar 29, 10:53:00 AM PST  
Blogger Mark 1:17 said...

So, am I understanding that you are saying that the Catholic Church is infallible? That it is at the same level of infallibility as Christ?
And then if the Catholic Church is indeed infallible as is Christ, then we should need only one or the other, what do we need Christ for?
If the Church is equal to Christ, how is Christ the head of the Church? The Church cannot be at the same level as Christ if Christ founded it.

Wed Mar 30, 07:54:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

No, you are not understanding correctly.

Christ is the Lord of the Church. He is the Head and we are the Body. Remove the Head and the Body is dead! Without Christ we are nothing! In fact, without Christ, the Church has no meaning! (Or did you miss that in the quotation cited with regard to Purgatory--the foundation is Christ, and we build on Him?)

The Church's gift of infallibility is a gift that Christ gives to her so that she will not stray from Christ in her doctrine of faith or morals. Her infallibility is most certainly not on the same level as Christ. Christ is God. His infallibility comes not only from His perfection, but in the fact that He Himself made everything and decided what is true and what is not. The Church's infallibility comes from Christ, in that He gives her the protection against falling into complete apostasy, so that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against her. This is Christ's promise, or do you not think that He can keep His promises?

If the Church cannot be trusted to teach the truth about Christ, then why, pray tell, does St. Paul call it "The Pillar and Foundation of Truth" (1 Timothy 3:15)?

Why do you fall into these false dichotomies? It's either faith or works, relationship or religion, Christ or the Church with you. This is false and absurd! Christianity is both/and on all these issues!
We are saved by our faith and our works as we respond to the Grace that God gives us. Our religion is how we live out our relationship with Jesus Christ, and the Church is the Body of Christ, in whom we meet Christ and receive His Grace in the Sacraments. It all ties together, and you cannot have one without the other!
That is why, about 1750 years ago, St. Cyprian of Carthage exclaimed that there is no salvation outside the Church! It is the Church that teaches us the fullness of the faith of Christ. Christ is inseparably linked to His Church! I cannot stress that enough!

There is no "one or the other" for salvation. We cannot come to the fullness of Christ outside of the Church that He founded.

God bless

(PS, sorry about the deleted comment, my last comment posted twice, and I figured 1 was long enough!)
(PPS, I don't know if you ever stopped by my blog. I extend the invitation again: http://www.waywardheart.blogspot.com)

Wed Mar 30, 08:37:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mark 1:17 said...

What is your deffinition of "The Church" as from your quote of "St. Cyprain"?

Thu Mar 31, 01:51:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

Wow, I wish my answer could be as concise as your question!

The Nicene Creed lays out the 4 components of the Church, that it is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. "These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes His Church one, holy, catholic and apostolic, and it is He who calls her to realise each of these qualities" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 811).

"866 The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms one holy Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf. Eph 4:3-5), at whose fulfilment all divisions will be overcome.

"867 The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave Himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one made up of sinners." Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.

"868 The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is 'missionary of her very nature' (Ad Gentes 2).

"869 The Church is apostolic. She is built upon a lasting foundation: 'the twelve apostles of the Lamb' (Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (cf. Matt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, again).

It would be specifically in paragraph 868, on the catholicity of the Church, that would answer your question most directly, about how the definition relates to the quote from St. Cyprian (why did you put quotation marks around his name, may I ask?).

I'm sure the above response really clears nothing up, but the answer to your question is a vast and complicated one, which books have been written about, and can hardly be done justice in a comment on a blog.

Biblically speaking, the Church is called many things, "The family of God", "The Bride of Christ", "The New Jerusalem", "The Kingdom of Heaven", and many others. The first mention of Church in the Bible is by Jesus, after Peter's confession of faith in Matthew 16. Jesus tells Simon that He is Peter (or "Rock") and upon this Rock He will build His Church, and the Gates of Hell will not prevail against it. He makes Peter the Steward of the Kingdom, by giving him the Keys of the Kingdom (an allusion to Isaiah 22). Later, in John, after Peter's denial, and Jesus' resurrection, Jesus three times has Peter affirm his love for Jesus, and each time Jesus commands him to feed or tend His sheep (John 21).

Peter's authority of "binding and loosing" as granted by the bestowal of the Keys, is granted to the other apostles as well (Matthew 18, John 20) but the Keys remain exclusively Peter's, as head of the Apostles.

St. Paul writes of this when he calls the Apostles the foundation of the faith: "So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Eph 2:19-22).

This foundation is what the Church means when she calls herself "Apostolic", and it is the Apostolic Tradition that she upholds that goes back right to them, unbroken, passed down by their successors, the Bishops, united to the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, or the Pope. This unbroken tradition is what sets the Catholic Church apart from Protestant denominations, which each can only go back to AD 1517 at most (The year Luther posted his 95 Theses).

Despite abuses, both past and present, this Church has lasted and thrived, essentially unchanged, since the time of the Apostles. Her sins are a part of the mystery described above, that she is the sinless Body made up of sinners.

I'm not sure what more I should say, but I'm plenty sure that'll give some food for further discussion!

God bless

Thu Mar 31, 09:31:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mark 1:17 said...

I also wish that your answer would have been concise. But, there are many things that I would agree with and some that I disagree with.

866 I agree that the Church (The Body of Believer, the Body of Christ) is one. Christ is the Lord, we all confess our faith in Him. How is Baptism defined? If it is the Baptism of the Spirit at the moment one accepts Christ, I agree. The Church is the Body of Christ and is given life and sustained by the Spirit.

867 I also agree that the Church is holy. God is her author, Christ is the bridegromm and did give Himself up for her and to make her Holy and pure. The Spirit does give her life. Here I agree that we are sinners, but that is just our flesh, if Christ lives within us our souls must be good. Paul talks about this in Romans, His soul knows what is good and wants to do it, but his flesh wins out and does the evil that his soul doesn't want to do. Repentance is the turning 180 degrees from sin and moving toward God, and leaving that sin behind.

868 Please define "catholic" vs "Catholic". As I understand it now "catholic" is the same as "christian" meaning followers of Christ. If this is the case, I agree. And I also agree with the rest of this part.

869 I agree that the Church is apostolic. Built upon Christ and indestructible. I agree that the Body of Christ is ingallibly in the truth: because of Christ. But by saying that the successors of Peter and the apostles are only the Pope and bishops, I would disagree. I am a disciple of Christ as are you. Christ has called us all heirs if we believe in our hearts and confess with our lips that Jesus Christ died upon the cross for our sins and was raised again on the thrid day for our sakes and has assended into heaven on our behalf. Therefore it is not just the "Catholic Church" that is granted this. It is anyone who actively follows Jesus Christ.

I put St. Cyprian in "" because we are all Saints, those of us who confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as God Himself. Paul tells us this in almost every letter that he has written.

I agree with you that the Catholic Church has direct roots straight back to Peter. But, I also see a lot of Pride in the Catholic Church because of it. This causes people to look down on those not in the Catholic Church and condeming them because of it. If the Church is deffined as the Body of Believers, those who follow and are disciples of Christ, I agree that salvation is found only there. But, Salvation is found outside of the Catholic Church. My whole point behind "It's Personal" is that if one finds "Religion" but not Christ, they have not found Salvation. Just because one claims to be a member of a specific church or faith or synod, does not impart Salvation unto them. The only thing that can save us is a personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I agree with you that this relationship to have fullfillment must manifest itself outwardly, but that cannot be the telling sign. It is a combination of both, but more so, starts with the personal and then once that relationship has filled up the heart it will overflow and result in what we call good works.

As to saying that protestants can only go back to AD 1517, maybe if we are only talking about organizations. But I believe that I can trace my faith all the way back to before time was time right when God decided to create the human race. My point is that the Body of Christ not any denomination is the Church. They body is what unites us all, the structures are what is tearing us all apart. Don't get me wrong I am not coming down on the Catholic Church, if I would be coming down any anything it would be all of the "Churches" simply stating that our pride is getting in the way and we must take it back to what unites us all, and that is Jesus Christ!
God Bless

Fri Apr 01, 12:23:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

(Hopefully I can be a little more concise this time--I'm really enjoying this discussion.)

Okay, let's see...
We started a discussion of baptism in your Great Commission thread, which you never continued to post to, so I figured you had agreed with the abundance of Scripture I presented. Guess not.

Baptism is "in the Spirit" in the sense that the Holy Spirit comes upon us at our baptism (in water) and causes us to be reborn. (I won't bother citing. I did that in the other thread.) However, just like circumcision, baptism can preceed our own capacity to believe (infant baptism), because the faith of our parents stands in our stead as they promise to train us up in the faith. When, however, we can have faith, if we do not, our baptism alone will not save us, because we are then rejecting the gift of the Holy Spirit, just as a Christian remains free to do at any time in his or her life (once-saved-always-saved is a bunch of mook).
So, enough on baptism, since there is another unfinished discussion on that one post prior to this one on your blog.

We are never "just our flesh" and our souls are never "good", in the sense of another false dichotomy. To St. Paul, our flesh is not the same thing as our spiritual bodies, but the sinful nature that we inherit from Adam's Fall. This sinful nature includes our souls, and Jesus' redemption includes our bodies (this is why our bodies are included in the resurrection of the dead, just as Jesus Himself was bodily resurrected). Other than that I have no beef with our discussion on the Church's holiness.

Catholic is the same as Christian (which is why the Church since the earliest centuries has called itself Catholic. It wasn't a name we gave ourselves after the Reformation).

Apostolic Succession refers to the Church's leadership, rather than its membership (which would be the Catholic part of the definition). This is one of the most important parts of the Church's definition, because it is the basis of authority in the Church, according to Scripture. This is a major dividing point among Protestants and Catholics (and even different groups of Protestants). Without identifiable leadership that goes generation by generation back to the Apostles, how can you be sure that what your leadership teaches is the authentic interpretation of Scripture. This is what is meant by the Church being apostolic.

That is not to say that other Christian denominations are without saving faith. The Catholic Church does not teach that (in fact, it teaches the opposite). However, this quality of apostolic succession is the guarantee (through the Holy Spirit) that the Catholic faith contains the fullness of truth about Christ, which is why she alone makes the audacious claim for herself that she is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). I've never met another legit Protestant denomination make that claim, and while I've heard cultic sects make it, they are unable to back it up.

In one sense, yes, we are all saints, because we have all been sanctified by Christ. However, since saint literally means "holy one", and no one ever achieves entire sanctification here on earth, a Saint in the Catholic sense of the term means someone who is in Heaven with God (which is why the title is only given posthumously).

There is perhaps too much pride in the Catholic Church, but the same can be said of Protestant churches as well, especially those that deny that Catholicism is a Christian Church at all! It goes both ways, and it is because we are all still human. However, the Catholic Church has some official teaching on Protestantism:

"The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body--here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism--do not occur without human sin...'However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers...All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 817-818).
"'The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic,...subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines' (Lumen Gentium 8)" (CCC 870).

Thus, the Catholic Church teaches that all faithful Christians are just that: Christians. The disunity between us is a grave matter, and one that must be worked hard at to overcome--but we are indeed brothers.

I disagree that outward actions must not be the telling sign of inward faith. St. James makes this clear in his epistle. Granted, our later works should be greater than the first, as we grow and mature in faith, and the absence of perfection in our works does not mean that Christ is not growing us into perfection--but faith and works cannot be separated. Jesus reminds us that "by their fruits we shall know them." This is why I maintain (as the original debate is about) that relationship and religion are not separate animals, but one and the same--two sides of the same coin, to mix metaphors.

The fact that Protestantism as an institution can only go back to 1517 is undeniable. So is the fact that certain beliefs of Protestantism only go back to Luther at the earliest (Like his two pillars of the Reformation: Faith alone and Scripture alone--neither of which were taught in the Church up to Luther, nor taught in Scripture itself). While the things that unify Catholics and Protestants are multudinous, and more than things that divide us, there are novel innovations in Protestantism that were never taught at previous times in Christian history, whereas all the doctrines of Catholicism can be traced right back to the times of the apostles (which is another aspect of the "apostolic nature" of the Catholic Church that is so important).

I also wholeheartedly agree that many in the Catholic Church don't have saving faith (just as many in the various Protestant churches could say the same). Like I said originally, "Religion is not the enemy; complacency is."

And while we do need to concentrate on what unites us, we cannot glibly ignore those things which genuinely divide us, but must enter into honest discussion, just as we are doing.

God bless!

Fri Apr 01, 10:14:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gregory said...

Well, that wasn't so brief after all. Sorry.
There's just too much to say.

Fri Apr 01, 10:15:00 PM PST  
Blogger Mark 1:17 said...

Romans 6:7
"For one who has died has been set free from sin."
In the context of Romans and Romans Chapter 6, Paul is not talking about a physical death, he is talking about our death along side Christ on the cross, our spiritual death, that we inherited from Adam and that through Christ is taken away.
Romans 6:14
"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."
Again Christ has set us free.
Romans 7:13-25
"Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."
Romans 8:1-2
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death."

It is a battle between our two natures. One nature that resides within the identity of Christ has already been made clean, this is the soul. It is washed by the blood of the lamb. To say otherwise would dimish the power of the cross. The other nature that is still corupted by Adam, our flesh. This nature will physically die, but because of Christ's bodily resurection, will be raised again.

1 Corinthians 15:42-52
"So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. ....46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are thos who are of the dust, ans as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brother: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a myster. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed."

Also Thesolonians!

Yes we are changed raised bodily! But we are change in the twinkling of an eye. Christ has washed us and made us clean and will raise us bodily once again. But our souls don't go to some other resting place. The moment we die, time no longer exists. We are ushered straight to Judgement day and are all (for a lack of better words) put on trial. God doesn't live within time, He created time. We look at the dead and see their bones in the grave, but they are already enjoying heaven! It all happens faster than we can snap our fingers. We can't look at it from a human standpoint, because it doesn't happen in a human standpoint. We live within time, we are resticted to time, God is not.
However, all that to say this one small thing. Does any of what we are discussing really matter in terms of salvation?
Salvation comes by confessing with the mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believing in your heart the God has raised Him from the dead.
I do not want this to be a stumbling block for other brothers or sisters. I think that we have went around and around this subject enough to know what each other believe and we should leave it at that.
In Him,

New definition of Church!
Taken straight from the original Greek....Called out ones!
Called out ones? Called out for what?
To strive and live for a life of holiness. We are not of this world, only stangers passing through. We are called out, we are separate. We are also called out to be disciples of Christ to follow His teachings and commands.

Tue Apr 05, 07:06:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Gregory said...

Alright. Point taken. I'll let you take the last word on this then.
You really should visit my blog if you haven't, though. It would be cool to hear your thoughts.

Tue Apr 05, 12:31:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Gregory said...

Sorry, but I can't resist. I was listening to one of my favourite bands on the way to work, a bluesy Southern Gospel group called "The Blind Boys of Alabama". They have a song on this particular album, Higher Ground called, "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round" that perfectly expressed my thoughts on Religion:

"Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round"

Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round
Turn me 'round, Turn me 'round
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round
Gonna keep on walkin', keep on talkin', walkin' down freedom road!

I know I got good religion
I didn't get it in a dream
'Cause you can wake me in the midnight hour
And I'll tell you what I dreamt!

Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round
Turn me 'round, Turn me 'round
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round
Gonna keep on walkin', keep on talkin', walkin' down freedom road!

God knows I got good religion
I got it when I was young
I'm sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost
The devil can't do me no harm!

Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round
Turn me 'round, Turn me 'round
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round
Gonna keep on walkin', keep on talkin', walkin' down freedom road!

Now I would not live as a sinner (oh no!)
I'll tell you the reason why
Now suppose the Lord calls me by name
I wouldn't be ready to die!

Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round
Turn me 'round, Turn me 'round
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round
Gonna keep on walkin', keep on talkin', walkin' down freedom road!

God bless!

Wed Apr 06, 11:08:00 AM PDT  

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