Catholic Protestant Dialogue

October 25, 2000

Ephesians 4:1 ¶I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 ¶With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

The Catholic-Protestant debate has been raging on for centuries. Only in recent decades has there been what we could call true dialogue between them and less closed-minded debate and diatribe but there is still too much pride on each side and not enough love to come together. Raised a Protestant as a child, I have understood the animosity and prejudice that can be engrained in an impressionable mind from an un-enlightened environment. The reformation gave us a good start on the restoration of the church to its original purity but unfortunately, the zeal to separate from all things Roman put the Protestants into the Puritan ignorance that many Christians have yet to overcome. Whether you agree or not, the reformation was especially good for the Roman Catholic Church through the counter-reformation response and of the efforts of Vatican II since. Much work still needs to be done on both sides before either side can agree.

To think that Roman Catholics are not saved and that anyone that is a member of the Catholic Church is part of Babylon is to be of the spirit of anti-christ. This is the same ignorant attitude that judges others as non-christian anyone who does not agree with your bigoted narrow minded theology. The same goes for those Roman Catholics that believe that anyone outside of the fellowship of Rome is separated from the true church. The fact is that both must put away their false doctrines and schismatic sectarianism to come into one accord. This discussion list is made up of all branches of the church. We need to discuss from all sides to come to any consensus. I believe it is possible to come together in love but it is the humility part that will break down the barriers to be able to come into agreement. This is not the "agree to disagree" business as usual compromises that need to be addressed but rather unity according to the truth. We may not be able to change the whole situation but let's see what we can do to change our little part of it.

I have not been a Protestant for years now. For me, the term suggests a "protest" against the Roman Church and I put away that type of thinking long ago. It served the church 4 and 5 hundred years ago but is not suited for any kind of dialogue today. The first protest in the reformation was of course when Martin Luther nailed up his 95 theses upon the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg. The reason Luther did this was to protest the sale of indulgences arguing that the pope had no right to dispense God's graces for money. Luther was right, the pope was wrong. If the Roman church had repented of the evil right away, there would have been no Protestant revolt but pride goes before a fall. Luther was excommunicated and the reformation began with those of "faithful Antipas" guiding the way. Recently the Roman Church praised Martin Luther as a "witness to the Gospel, a teacher in faith and as someone calling for spiritual renewal."

As a group that has discussed many things already, we can start with what we positively agree upon which is Jesus. We have decided that we are Trinitarian, we believe in His Incarnation, the virgin birth, the Atonement, His bodily resurrection, His Second Coming. We believe that he has saved us by our faith in Him through grace, we believe in scripture as divine, we believe in heaven and hell, of demons and angels, the communion of saints and affirm the early creeds of the faith. We believe that the Roman Church has produced great men and women in the past like Saint Augustine and Francis of Assisi, Athenasius, Saint Theresa, Arminius, Erasmus, Savonarola and Thomas Aquinas. The list is much longer compelling at least the loving Protestants to accept the faith of the Catholic Church, not as something to be refuted but part of the body of Christ to be embraced as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

At this point, there are many, many things I could bring up but I will leave that up to you. There is the story of Vatican II and Pope John XXIII, the charismatic movement within both branches of the church. The positive things such as putting away forbidding to eat meat, statues on dashboards, Mass in the language that we can understand, encouragement of Bible reading and many other things. Other things must be discussed such as the priesthood of all believers, the nicolaitan errors of the hierarchy, dispensing of grace, empowerment of women. Protestant excesses also that were introduced in the reformation should be discussed such as extreme fundamentalism, sola scriptura, private interpretation of scripture, incompatible doctrine, autonomous churches, determinism, denial of tradition, bishops and the prophetic word.

Let's give it a try.

Speak the truth in love. "Prove all things: hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21).


Jay, Thanks for your reply, and although I don't have much time for joining in, I'll look forward to reading what others have to say. Among the many things God has assigned to me this year is the teaching of the Catholic faith to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Most recently, my 8th graders have been carrying on some passionate discussions regarding their and the Church's views on several issues related to the sanctity of human life, namely abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, and the refusal of medical treatment for one's self or one's children.

The discussions started out with many of them stating their viewpoints based solely on what they had heard said by others. I'm pleased to note that their minds have been opened to some harsh realities, and several have changed their minds regarding the abortion issue. (About 1/2 of my class started out by saying that while it was not an action they would choose for themselves, they did support the right of others to make their own choices.) All of this led to a new discussion regarding the viewpoints of other Christian churches on several issues, and one of my students asked a question I was hard-pressed to come up with a suitable answer for: "Why," they ask, "in a Catholic church, while stating our belief in 'one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church,' do we seem to contradict that statement by excluding other Christians from the celebration of our Eucharist?" They see this as extremely unjust, as we first declare that we are the universal church, welcoming to all, through our use of the term 'catholic' with a lower-case 'c,' and then exclude our Christian brothers and sisters from the Eucharistic celebration. Beyond the obvious response, that other Christians do not necessarily believe in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, do you, or any of your readers, have any suggestions for an appropriate response?


Hi Kathy,

> other Christians from the celebration of our Eucharist?

Your students are to be commended for such an insightful question. As to an answer, I would have to take a response that it is Catholic power that keeps the Roman Church from becoming true "catholic" (universal). As long as the separation of clergy and laity exists, as long as the priesthood of all believers is not acknowledged, including the ministry being denied to women and as long as the blood of Christ is withheld from the congregation in the Eucharist, there will be these problems and these questions. As to full unity, it is up to the Roman hierarchy to bring the solutions, but as long as the hierarchy is acting upon false authority by exalting their own church leaders above others in the body, this is not possible. The abuse of power has always put the Roman Catholic Church in the position of being less than it can be by trying to become more than it should. And as long as the Roman Church considers themselves to be the purveyors of grace instead of Jesus Himself, the question of authority will never be answered.

Thanks for asking. I pray that there will be a suitable answer to these questions in the future coming out of Rome for the sake of true unity.

Stay blessed,


(Another letter by a visitor to my site)

We do not believe in worshipping Mary. Only Our Lord is worthy of worship.

In the Catholic Church there is a difference between worship and prayer. I find this information in your search engine on your web site engine. I just typed in Mary and that's when a page regarding Maritology pop up. We look upon Mary as the Mother of God-Jesus, the second person of the Trinity. For we feel that God chose Mary to be Holy and a Virgin in order to be the Mother of His Holy Son Jesus. If God chose Mary to be the Mother of our His Son Jesus; and one of His Ten Commandments is to 'honor and obey thy Mother and thy Father'. Then when we are praying to Mary then we are 'honoring' her as the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The event regarding her as the 'Mother of Our Lord Jesus' is totally a separate event from her as the wife of Joseph and the Mother of his children. For it clearly states in the Holy Bible that Joseph is the foster father of Jesus; and that Mary is the Mother of Jesus. Therefore, when we pray to Mary, we are praying to her as the Mother of God-Jesus. If you read John 2 about the wedding in Cana. That Jesus performed his first miracle at His mother's (Mary) request instead of His Heavenly Father. And if God didn't chastise Jesus for honoring his Mother, Mary; then why shouldn't the children in the Body of Christ not do the same?

In Christ,

Thank you for the tremendous message today. Man, there is nothing more that needs to be said on this subject - your last paragraph is so powerful and full of so much spirituality that you can close this subject out immediately. Fan the flames and get that smoke away from the back of your computer terminal. All praises be to the Most High God!

Bill Caraway

I thank God that He led me to your web site. I accepted the Lord 9 years ago and believed everything He said in His Word. It would take to long to explain everything, but I was filled with joy and served Him as a Sunday school teacher, Children's director, helped start up new churches, started programs in existing churches, and have gotten to introduce people from all life situations to God. But unfortunately what I felt and saw were always separate from what was happening in the church. I went to Presbyterian and Baptist churches. Two years ago I was visiting a church during one of their worship only services. Everything was quiet and calm then they asked people to come forward for prayer, something I would never do, so I went up a few aisles while my friends went forward. I did pray for myself that God would renew my joy (something I had thought impossible to loose), while I was praying a wind (from the south of me) blew within me, upon my body and I felt upon the whole church. I was embarrassed to fall down but that is what I knew was going to happen because I couldn't stand under the power of the wind. So I fell to my knees. I think this lasted about 10 -15 min. The next thing I know I stand up and start singing with this voice that I didn't recognize. Very loud - powerful - full of wind. People started singing and jumping up and down. Some came over to me and touched me and started crying. Some people have fallen as they come near me. Since then my life has changed dramatically. I also started seeing visions that would happen - some almost immediately, one vision didn't happen until just recently. But all I know is God told me to blow the trumpet.

My life is turned around. I am now going (for the last 2 months) to a church called Vineyard in Pacific Beach, Ca. Each church that I have attended the last two years (very large - at least 3,000 people - churches) have coveted the voice, while wanting to change it to fit their program. All I know is I have been very afraid (I know love casts out fear so I ask for forgiveness, but sin scares me and when I see covetness and pride I'm very afraid). Being at this church (Vineyard) has brought much peace. I realize I am going into my personal 3rd day and am praying that what He started will start making sense to me. Sorry this is so long. But there is no way to explain what has happened to me, all I know is I have become a freak to many, and a blessing to others. All I want is to be obedient to God and trust that He will use me in spite of my many sins.
Yours in Christ,

I agree with most of the things you wrote in this discussion. There are many theological points that we could debate on such as even though we are saints on earth, when do you enter that sainthood? Is it the time when we are saved? Can we lose our salvation? I believe so...look at Judas and Saul and Samson when they were turned over to satan..I don't know if they lost their salvation, I think this is possible. Do we have communion until that time? Does it begin when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit and begin to lose the bondage, demons and darkness of the enemy? Also, have you ever heard 'Close Encounters of the God Kind' by Jesse DuPlantis?..He was actually taken to heaven for divine revelation and there is a book by another author called 'A Divine Revelation of Heaven' where she was taken to heaven also. Both these people say much of the same things and saw the spirits of the saints in heaven, some in white robes of righteousness and others in beautiful gowns that had not yet earned the white robes of righteousness but were being taught so that they may wear them. So I think the spirit of the saints are in heaven now and that at the time of resurrection their immortal bodies will be you said Elijah was taken as is to heaven!


I've been pretty busy recently, but your last post caught my interest. I've been wondering about some of these questions recently. In particular, where are the dead. We must remember that the wheat and tares grow together until the harvest, so it does not seem that the saved and unsaved are already separated. If they have not yet been separated, then the dead are all in the same place. If all Christians are already separated from the unbelievers and taken to heaven, then the judgement has already happened. We know that some of those who face the judgement will be found innocent because their names are written in the book of life.

If salvation is a process of gaining God and taking him completely into your being, then we cannot be with God until we have been transformed. If we do not love, we do not have life, and we will not have it until we love with God's perfect love. Paradoxically, we are on one hand righteous because we are bought by God and free from condemnation, yet still struggling to be conformed completely to Christ's death and his life. Being with God and being one flesh with God can only happen when we have grown fully in him.

Several times it was mentioned that God is a God of the living and not of the dead. When Jesus said this he was addressing the issue of the resurrection. At this time he had not passed through death and resurrection, so Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were certainly still in the power of death, even if they came to life at the crucifixion. At the same time, there is the fact that when Jesus died, many of the dead rose to life. It does not seem at all problematic to believe that the saints (I use this term to mean the perfected believers although it is more ambiguous in the Bible), having become holy in their life on earth, are in heaven. They are not only saved judicially but also transformed and restored into the full image of God, so there is no reason that they could not be with him at this time.

Finally, as to the issue of intercession by the saints, I have always felt very uncomfortable with the idea without being fully aware of why. Just now it occurred to me what the issue is that worries me. If all believers, living and dead, are one body, then we can address our prayer requests to anyone. Too much emphasis has been made in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions on intercession by the saints, eclipsing the fact, alluded to in the previous message, that all of the departed believers can intercede for us. All of us, on earth, in Heaven, or in Hades, can speak to God. Certainly he hears the prayers of those who are not immediately beside him. To recover a biblical doctrine of the communion of the saints, we must have one without the spirit of Nicolaitanism, and this means focusing on all the intercessors rather than a small, special group.

Eric Olson


Hi Eric,

Your questions are those that others still have as well. This is why a few of us have referred to the can of worms. Confusing, isn't it. Anyway through what I have already figured out and that of what others have submitted, i will try to clear some of this up for you in dialectic and make a few comments.

First of all, you refer to the harvest. The harvest refers to the end of the age when both the saved and the unsaved are together on the earth, not in the grave. There will be a time that they will be getting together with those that have gone on. We have discussed that eternity and our relationship to time are different. Future time in eternity is a moot point. You also refer to "the dead
> are all in the same place"
This is a generalizing statement and leaves no room for the living. Eternal life does not mean that you die spiritual as well as physically so it seems to me that your questioning needs to go along those lines.

The conclusions that you make seem to me to be quite correct. I also agree about the judgment and the book of life as already occurring if we are among the overcomes. The salvation process that you refer to sounds more like the sanctification process which may or may not be the same thing. I have to admit that I am not as yet completely clear upon this either and neither is scripture.

As to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob being among the living but Jesus had not died yet, you are again referring to our relationship to time rather than to eternity. Our concept of time is linear, as opposed to circular, as others believe. Think of any point in our time and one dying and going to heaven. Once in heaven, there is not any relationship to our time, so whatever point in time that one physically dies, past, present or at the time of the resurrection, it is the same point in eternity because our relationship to time there is irrelevant. It is not a hard concept but it is necessary to understand the relationship to the living in eternity and those in the grave awaiting a resurrection. It is in the "kairos," the fullness of time that we wait and long for. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He knows the end of time because He is outside and beyond it and sees and understands the beginning and the end. When He breaks through again into history, it will be according to our relationship to the marching of time in a forward progress.

In your mention of the communion of saints, you again mention the question of all the living and dead as one body. It is not the dead, God is the God of the living, right? The "dead" are in the grave awaiting the second resurrection which will be the final judgment. Those that have gained eternal life are not included in this number and are not dead but live. We can only address our prayer requests to the living. As we make our requests known to the saints, they intercede for us. This cannot be done if they are "dead." You are absolutely right in that this cannot be done with a spirit of Nicolaitanism but in unity, as one body and in not preferring any one group over another.



Thank you for your response. I think that there are some difficulties in communication. First, you ask what I mean by salvation. In this context, I was referring to salvation as including sanctification. I do not consider salvation to be complete until we have been sanctifies, although one does not have to be perfect at the time of one's death to have one's name in the book of life. There is still time to finish the process after death.

Your point about time is interesting. I came to a similar conclusion when thinking about creation and evolution. While it bears on some parts of this question, I am not sure if it provides a complete answer. If time as we know it does not exist in heaven, then it becomes even less clear what route Abraham, Isaac, and the rest of us take from earth to heaven. We are all perfected and one with God in eternity, but do we go directly from earth to God's presence?

John 3:16 says that, "whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Looking closer, I have to agree that we do not die spiritually. However, I would ask why it was necessary for the dead saints to be raised from their tombs when Jesus died. I interpret this as indicating that they were raised from Sheol prior to being taken to heaven. Of course it is also possible that they were simply raised in the same way that Lazarus was, back to a mortal body to continue a mortal life. Death is quite a hard thing to understand.

In contrast to this, I do see the last judgement, both in the parables and the book of Revelation, as being a time where sheep and goats are being separated rather than a rubber-stamp approval of a judgement that has already been made. I do agree that the saints have already been separated, since they are seated on the thrones of judgement, but what of the unsanctified believers? Can we worship at God's throne before we have been perfected? Paul says that those whose foundations are built of straw will be saved as through fire. This seems to refer to the image of metal being purified by being melted and the impurities being burned away. It would suggest that our journey is not necessarily finished when we die physically.

The key to this paradox is to remember that spiritual death is not something that happens to us in the future, but something that has already happened in the past, by Adam's sin. It has just occurred to me that death is an ongoing condition that we overcome with the Lord's help and not something that comes out of the blue when our bodies give out. When Adam sinned, mankind died spiritually. Every day of our lives our bodies continue to degrade and corrupt, until they die. The same thing happens spiritually, and continues into eternity unless we are with God. As we approach God, the process of spiritual death is reversed and we gain eternal life, but this is not something that happens all at once, as seen in the struggles we go through when working out our salvation. I can say with confidence that I am both dead and alive. I am dead in that I have not overcome every stronghold of sin in my body and soul. I am alive in that I have been born of water and the Spirit. It is a common misconception among Protestants (of whom I am one) that as soon as we die we are instantly and painlessly transformed into perfection to be with God. If God worked that way, why does he not do that while we are still alive? This misconception finds its most extreme expression in the faulty rapture theology that you have criticized elsewhere, as well as the apathy to which the church can succumb. While there is good reason to be suspicious of the doctrine of purgatory, the worst element of that doctrine was the idea that the rich could buy their way out. Scripture does indicate that, though everyone who calls on the Lord's name will be saved, it is not a trivial matter to fall short of the goal and not live up to the treasure with which we have been entrusted.

So what happens to us when we die physically? I have already said that I do not think that the separation between saved and unsaved will be complete until the last judgement. As to where the sleeping believers are, I would say that they are with God to the extent that they are alive and absent from him to the extent that they are dead. In conclusion, I would ask you to remember that even on earth, the saints are with God, and even if a sinner were taken right beside the throne of God, he would not be with God. I hope I have not sounded too confused. If I have any new insights I will send them as well.


Thank you for the email Jay. So what happens to an average guy like me who is trying to do the right thing, but as humans are, sometimes I fail?



Hi Mike,

I am just an average guy too and I fail. The "overcomers" are those that may still stumble and fall in the midst of tribulation and but are faithful enough to pick themselves up. Overcoming failure shows if a person is just playing church or in it for the prosperity or power or just for the life insurance. We are in a church of grace, not in a literal adherence to the law. Jesus still loves us if we fail and will not let us down. Like Paul, we may have our thorns but it reminds us of our unworthiness and in the sufficiency of God's grace. And it guards us from pride. Confession and repentance is our responsibility. Forgiveness is God's responsibility and He will never fail.


Good morning Jay, Thank you very much for this edition. We know that God is a God of the living and not the dead. When psychics went to the witch of Endor. This woman brought up a spirit that was supposed to be Samuel. ( The enemy lucifer can do many things he is a deceiver,) The work that this witch did is not the work of God. This is also known as necronomicon. She said she heard this spirit coming from under the earth. This spirit was not the true spirit of Samuel. Yes it did speak to Saul and told him things, just as Lucifer told Eve many things also. Just as today we have witches that gives out information to people and they are known as psychics. This is why the gift of discernment of spirits is so important in our lives. After all, the spirit of Egypt is upon this world and lucifer is the god of it.

M. M.

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