How to view Roman Catholic believers

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Romans5eight

Puritan Board Freshman
I’m sure some of you have family or friends in the Roman Catholic Church. Do you view them as believers since we acknowledge their baptism?
 

Gforce9

Puritan Board Junior
I don't view those in the RCC as brothers/sisters by virtue of their RCC membership. I know there are tares among wheat in their assemblies, just as in ours. I will say, though, that if they really believe the official teachings of the RCC, especially in matters of Soteriology, there "gospel" is not Paul's, David's, Abraham's, nor Jesus'......
 
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Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I’m sure some of you have family or friends in the Roman Catholic Church. Do you view them as believers since we acknowledge their baptism?
I would not acknowledge their Baptism, as they hold to Baptismal Regeneration, and they teach a false Gospel message.
Individuals are still saved in there despite their errors, but they should depart and leave for a real bible believing church once saved by the Lord.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I’m sure some of you have family or friends in the Roman Catholic Church. Do you view them as believers since we acknowledge their baptism?

I do not view them as believers unless they believe the Gospel. If they do, they are often far astray and ignorant of the dangers they are under.

I do not acknowledge their baptism, it is not Christian baptism since they are not part of the visible church.
 

Romans5eight

Puritan Board Freshman
What would you all say is the best place (doctrine) to start with in talking with a RC member? Justification perhaps?

It seems like if we launch into the Pope, praying to saints, purgatory, etc. they will get defensive and stop listening. Maybe there is a PB member who has come from the RC as an adult that can share their experience.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I grew up RC and became a Christian at 17. The Gospel was sufficient (that I was a sinner, Jesus died for sins, I needed to believe it), I learned all the meanings of justification, sanctification, etc. later. But it all depends on who you are talking to...
 

jambo

Puritan Board Senior
I think you have to take each person on an individual basis. However many true believers there are in the RC church they did not become Christians by following the teachings of their church.

Whilst conservative RCs may still hold the traditional beliefs about Mary, purgatory, papal infallibility, the mass etc most do not really believe it but people are just too scared to let go of what they perceive to be the flimsiest of lifelines "just in case"

In terms of books, none better than the book of Hebrews.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
I would not acknowledge their Baptism, as they hold to Baptismal Regeneration, and they teach a false Gospel message.
Individuals are still saved in there despite their errors, but they should depart and leave for a real bible believing church once saved by the Lord.
As Hodge once remarked concerning the sudden decision of the 1845 PCUSA GA in denying the validity of Rome's baptism:
"to pronounce Calvin, Luther, and all the men of that generation, as well as thousands who with no other than Romish baptism have since been received into the Protestant Churches, to have live and died unbaptized" :2cents:

There is more to the argument of Rome's being an false church, teaching a false gospel, etc., therefore their baptism is invalid than perhaps some have considered carefully. The efficacy of baptism does not depend on the intention of the one administering it. It does not matter what Rome says it is doing in baptism. Let's not give them too much credit in the matter of the form of which was instituted by Christ.

A good appreciation of the history and debate around the topic can be apprehended here:
http://www.peterwallace.org/old/dissertation/3catholicity.htm
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
We Presbyterians hold that the efficacy of baptism does not depend on the intention of the one administering it.

Not that I want to argue about this but clarity must come. I would make clear that one denying the validity of a papist baptism has nothing to do with the person who administered it. That's not the argument. It is not the donatist controversy we deal with here because we are not talking about the individual administering the baptism but rather the institution as a whole; thus the holiness of the individual is a question that really has no bearing. Next, I understand the historical precedent among the Reformed to accept RCC baptism since it is Trinitarian; however, a baptism being Trinitarian while necessary is not sufficient. Rome officially anathemized the gospel and baptism in part signifies that which ought to be preached. No institution that anathemizes the gospel has a right to call itself a church and as such has no right to have/administer the sacraments. Third, baptism signifies the gospel - even Rome will say this, but what "gospel" does Rome preach? It is a false gospel, it is an anti-gospel, so how can we say the baptism of Rome is valid if it signifies an anti-gospel? Finally, as the Westminster Confession rightly notes, the sacraments are to be administered by lawfully ordained ministers; but Rome has no right to call herself a true church or a church at all, therefore she has no right to ordain anyone for only the Church can do that.
 
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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
What would you all say is the best place (doctrine) to start with in talking with a RC member? Justification perhaps?

It seems like if we launch into the Pope, praying to saints, purgatory, etc. they will get defensive and stop listening. Maybe there is a PB member who has come from the RC as an adult that can share their experience.
For me (ex-Romanist) it begins with an examination of the current practices, the treadmill of initial justification and progressive justification Rome espouses. Take that and then start with Scripture's accurate teachings on the matter.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Not here to argue about this,
Well I am glad you are not arguing about this, brother. :lol:

I understand your points well enough. Now when the person to whom I had responded to actually makes an argument contrary to what was in fact made, I will happily reconstruct my response. As it stands however, my response was on point to what was proffered by my interlocutor.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Well I am glad you are not arguing about this, brother. :lol:

I understand your points well enough. Now when the person to whom I had responded to actually makes an argument contrary to what was in fact made, I will happily reconstruct my response. As it stands however, my response was on point to what was proffered by my interlocutor.

I was merely seeking to correct the straw man. I believe that applies to Mr. Dachaser's comment as well.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
As Hodge once remarked concerning the sudden decision of the 1845 PCUSA GA in denying the validity of Rome's baptism:
"to pronounce Calvin, Luther, and all the men of that generation, as well as thousands who with no other than Romish baptism have since been received into the Protestant Churches, to have live and died unbaptized" :2cents:

There is more to the argument of Rome's being an false church, teaching a false gospel, etc., therefore their baptism is invalid than perhaps some have considered carefully. The efficacy of baptism does not depend on the intention of the one administering it. It does not matter what Rome says it is doing in baptism. Let's not give them too much credit in the matter of the form of which was instituted by Christ.

A good appreciation of the history and debate around the topic can be apprehended here:
http://www.peterwallace.org/old/dissertation/3catholicity.htm
A valid Baptism has to come from a valid spiritual authority, and how would the papacy and Rome be able to claim that, as they still continue to deny the true Gospel of the Lord?
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I was merely seeking to correct the straw man. I believe that applies to Mr. Dachaser's comment as well.
The church of Rome would not even be a valid NT church though, as they deny the true Gospel, so why would we see their baptism as being valid?
 

Romans5eight

Puritan Board Freshman
So in summary, we should talk with them as we would any person and maybe start with the things we agree on (Trinity, sinless life, death, and resurrection of Christ, inerrancy of scripture) and then move to scriptures about justification that make it impossible to remain a Roman Catholic?

I am trying to plan my next conversation with a RC family member and want to have a plan.
 

Romans5eight

Puritan Board Freshman
As far as the validity of their baptism goes--couldn't we look at it as a parallel of circumcision in the OT? Those who have received circumcision by the Pharisees for example couldn't be re-circumcised when they came to a true understanding of salvation and the Law and salvation-- So we wouldn't require a re-administration as a covenant sign?

Am I thinking correctly on this?
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Jesse, you might want to consider taking a brief look at Gregg Allison's book on Roman Catholicism, which is based on the work of Leonardo di Chirico. RC is based on two main pillars that hold up everything else: 1. the church is an extension of the incarnation of Christ (this is where authority comes from, papal and conciliar); 2. grace perfects nature (this is where the sacrementalism comes from, and the semi-Pelagianism. Understand RC as a system before you critique any part of it.
 

Romans5eight

Puritan Board Freshman
That is a good book recommendation----Believe it or not, I read that last year after he was on the Reformed Forum. I think that its easy to get into rabbit-tralls with RC people and I was hoping to hear some success stories about practically dealing with them without getting wound up in the details and traditions.
 

Romans5eight

Puritan Board Freshman
For example, understanding nature-grace dualism is important to understand the RC church, but I can't imagine the blank stare I would get if I brought that term up with a family member. So maybe keeping it simple and focused on justification is the best way to go about it.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
That's Donatism, unless you mean by a minister (instead of just any person).

"A valid spiritual authority" - someone who is lawfully ordained. If you take someone who is a lawfully ordained minister and then question baptisms they administer for X-problem, then you have the issue of Donatism.

But if you have a someone who is not a valid spiritual authority (they are not lawfully ordained), then the issue is not Donatism.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
I believe the approach must be the same as that for cults that I've mentioned in another thread: ask what they are trusting in for their salvation. What is the grounds of justification? Pin them to the wall with it: "Why do you suppose that God will let you into Heaven rather than damn you for eternity?" That is a question that can't easily be weaseled out of, and it is the most important question for a sinner to confront. Whether they were validly baptized, whether they're communicants, whether they understand much or little don't matter as much as where their hope and trust is placed.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Generally, it is better to deal with the person in front of you instead of a preconception of their philosophy. What is your hope? What do you understand the Bible to teach? ...
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
As Hodge once remarked concerning the sudden decision of the 1845 PCUSA GA in denying the validity of Rome's baptism: "to pronounce Calvin, Luther, and all the men of that generation, as well as thousands who with no other than Romish baptism have since been received into the Protestant Churches, to have live and died unbaptized" :2cents:

This is something I've never thought of. Having recognized Roman Catholicism's invalidity, were Luther and Calvin ever re-baptized?
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is something I've never thought of. Having recognized Roman Catholicism's invalidity, were Luther and Calvin ever re-baptized?
I believe Calvin spoke against re-baptizing in the Institutes. Unless I remember wrong.
Pretty sure he and Luther did consider their baptisms valid.
 

Matthew G. Bianco

Puritan Board Freshman
As I always say on this: the Roman Catholic Church is not Christian but there exists some within the Roman Catholic Church who are saved *in spite* of their tradition’s teachings. Those who truly and devoutly follow Rome’s teachings I cannot say have a valid profession of faith regardless of their baptism.
 
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