The Long Standing Debate
The Catholic-Protestant debate has continued for centuries since the time of the milestone Protestant Reformation. Often this debate becomes very heated and emotional because major issues are involved. At the beginning of this new series called Catholic Concerns, it is important to make a few points clear.
No matter which side is right, a true Christian is required by Jesus Christ to respect and love others, even his enemies. In fact, according to Christ, one’s ability to do this is proof that he or she is really a true child of God (Matthew 5:44). We are also required by God to put away “all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking,” and to “be kind one to another” (Ephesians 4:32). There is no excuse for slander, nor for the manifestation of “any root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15). Jesus Christ, our example, even prayed for his persecutors as He hung upon the cross. Truth has nothing to hide. It can afford to be fair, and to look at all the evidence. Those who resort to sarcasm and mockery do not strengthen their position before any intelligent person.
In an age of increasing inter-faith cooperation, many might inquire – Why bring up these issues at all? Why not just put the past behind us, bury our differences, and come together in Christian love? This is a fair question that should be answered. First of all, as I have already mentioned, Christians should love others no matter what. And it’s true, Jesus Christ Himself does want His children to be united. In one of His last prayers before His death, Jesus prayed that we “may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23). Nevertheless, there is something else in this prayer that must not be overlooked. Jesus also said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (vs. 17). Thus Christ not only wants unity, but also sanctification through the truth. He defines “the truth” as God’s “word.”
In our desire for unity, we cannot afford to sacrifice truth. The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 16:12). God is “the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16). Christians are to “obey the truth” (Gal. 3:1) and to be “purified” through “the truth” (1 Peter 1:22). We are warned that many “will turn their eyes away from the truth, and be turned to fables” (2 Tim.4:4). And finally, we are even told that many will “perish because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). Thus truth is a life and death matter.
It is no secret that the Roman Catholic Church claims to be the true Church of Jesus Christ. She has definite reasons for believing this. She also claims that the Pope is the legitimate Head of Christianity, under Jesus Christ. In spite of ecumenical developments, Rome has not relinquished these claims. The Vatican today is one of the most powerful organizations on earth, and the Pope is also one of the world’s most influential individuals.
The purpose of Catholic Concerns is to examine these claims in the light of “the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). It hopes to be fair, honest, and as objective as possible. Its primary goal is to help its readers “obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10).