How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity! –
Psalm 133:1 (NRSV)
I have been to many different types of churches from Roman Catholic, Charismatic Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist (American, Conservative, Southern and Independent), Congregationalist, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Fundamentalist… the list goes on and on. Every one of them (with the exception of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who I visited *only once*) professes belief in the Trinity and the fact that Jesus came to die for us and rose from the dead in the promise of life everlasting for those who know Him. Today, I attend a non-denominational church that is big on God’s grace– as it is available to anyone who will receive it through Jesus.
I understand that Roman Catholics have some beliefs that others don’t consider biblically grounded and claim authority that others would deny. I myself have some serious disagreement with more than one doctrine they teach. But, the core of the faith: who Jesus is (and what He did) is essentially the same, as far as I can tell (with limited exposure to Catholic teaching). Therefore, I do know some Catholics on a personal level who I consider brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of where they attend church on Sundays.
I refuse to go off into some theological discussion or argument of the merits or liabilities of any one way of thinking or believing; however, I will remind my brothers and sisters of the simple criteria outlined in the Bible that will determine the eternal destiny of anybody: So if you believe deep in your heart that God raised Jesus from the pit of death and if you voice your allegiance by confessing the truth that “Jesus is Lord,” then you will be saved! -Romans 10:9 (VOICE)
I can fellowship with anybody who sincerely believes and adheres to the tenets of faith as outlined in the Apostle’s Creed. Beyond that, whether it is a Roman belief in Papal authority, some other ritual, the Lutheran practice of infant baptism (they are not alone in that practice) or the Pentecostal traditions of speaking in tongues/faith healing, I personally leave it up to the individual understanding and conscience of the believer and for God to evaluate, not me. What I like to look for are the born-again believers who are therefore part of that “invisible church” that exists within most churches. As a friend used to say, “those who understand the red letters.”
Please don’t misunderstand me. I have a core set of beliefs and values that I will not bend to fit the scene of the day. I consider the Bible to be the infallible Word of God and take the authority of the Scripture very seriously. I also believe that the answers to the theological questions we may ask [and God requires us to understand] will be found within the pages of the Bible. That said, I look to God’s Word to discover what makes a Christian a Christian and find it is summed up quite nicely in Romans 10:9– no matter what translation you read it in.