FULLY CHRISTIAN was formerly CATHOLIC IN THE OZARKS
Still 100% Catholic, and 100% Christian.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Great Catholic Boycott

If video above does not play, click here.

This isn't the first time something like this has been called for, and it certainly won't be the last. It is however, the first time it's been called for on such a large scale, by a media outlet with such a broad reach. I suspect it will have a significant long-term effect.

As much as many in the U.S. Catholic establishment would like Michael Voris to just "fade away," that is not going to happen. He's raised a small army at ChurchMilitant.TV with many subordinates would could take over his position if necessary, or who could go off and start their own Internet media outfit if they had to. Likewise, he has managed to rally scores of bloggers on the Internet, bringing them to a singular focus. What this man has done is impressive, but it is no longer limited to him alone. Michael Voris is just the tip of a very big iceberg. There is only one way to avoid running aground on this thing, and that is for the bishops and priests of the U.S. Catholic Church to steer away from it. Trying to knock the tip off the iceberg (as some have tried to do by attacking Voris) is not going to solve the problem. Even if successful, the iceberg still remains. The best way to avoid hitting the iceberg is to simply be nowhere near it. That means there is only one way out -- fix the problem!

The problem has been avoided for far too long. Mother Angelica, of EWTN, fired the warning shot across the bow 20 years ago (see here). For this she was disciplined. Yes, the tip of the iceberg was cut off, but the ship still ran aground on it. About 10 years later it was hit with the worst sex-abuse scandal in the history of Christianity. The ramifications of this are still being played out, and the money lost by the Church is incalculable, both in lawsuit payouts and lost donations. Well, here we are 10 years later again, and guess what? Very little has changed, and the ship is about to hit the iceberg again. The proverbial "bell" has been "rung" and nobody can "unring" it.  The call has been put out with this video, and unlike mainstream television, this isn't just a one time running. This video will be played over and over again, on computers, tablets and smart phones -- indefinitely. It's not going away. It's never going away. Who would have thought that we would finally reach the point, when a Catholic media persona could actually, and legitimately, make the claim that being a faithful Catholic means NOT giving donations to your parish and diocese? Well, it's happened, and his call is resonating.

I am fortunate. The "diocese" I am part of doesn't have these problems. It is traditional, and does not compromise on Catholic teaching. I will continue to give to my "diocese" and to the parish we are attempting to start here in my area.  Some of you, however, are not in the same position. It is important for a Catholic Christian to give, especially during this Advent and Christmas seasons. So if you decide not to give to your parish or diocese, because of the appeal given by Voris in the video above, then might I suggest a few alternatives...

  • You could find a conservative and traditional parish or group to give to instead. It could simply be a traditional Novus Ordo parish, or a traditional Anglican Use parish. It could be a local Latin Mass parish or community, preferably one within your diocese or a regularised fraternity such as the FSSP. (I strongly discourage giving any money to the SSPX or similar unregularised outfits.)
  • You could give directly to a regularised traditional fraternity, prelature or ordinariate. Some suggestions might be such organisations as: Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, Institute of Christ the King, Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, Una Voce, and Opus Dei. In all of these fully Catholic organisations, you can rest assured that your donations will be put to use in the most traditional way, building a more traditional future for the Catholic Church here in North America.
  • You could simply find local charities, that are consistent with Catholic social teaching, and give directly to them instead. I would recommend crisis pregnancy centres as one example, local soup kitchens, and homeless shelters as another.

Whatever you do, don't stop giving. Rather, if you decide to follow Voris' call for a financial boycott on Catholic parishes and dioceses that no longer adhere to the Catholic faith, then just redirect your funds to those that do.

As I said, the proverbial "bell" has been "rung" and nobody can "unring" it now. The only people who can stop this boycott are the Catholic bishops and priests themselves, by getting back to the traditional basics and start teaching Catholicism again. If not, well, I imagine it will only be a matter of time before they start feeling the pinch. Remember, this video isn't going away. It will be played over and over again -- indefinitely. There is certainly nothing I can do to stop it, and sharing it here on my little blog (which only has a small following) isn't going to make any difference one way or another. I'm sure more videos like it will soon follow. Watch the big Catholic blogs and you'll see, they'll be jumping on this bandwagon soon enough.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Getting the Big Picture

CHRISTIANITY WORLDWIDE

Stepping back and getting the big picture is something I like to do because I find it helps me gain a better understanding of things. I live in the Bible Belt of the United States. Here one can easily get a very skewed picture of what Christianity looks like. For example; I've had the opportunity to speak to multiple Catholic youth groups in Springfield Missouri over the past decade or so. One of the things I've noticed pretty consistently is how the views of young Catholics in this area are shaped by the immediate world around them. I would ask them what the largest Christian church in the world is. Almost always they would answer "Baptist." A few might answer "Assemblies of God" which is a Pentecostal denomination. This shouldn't be surprising. The Bible Belt of the United States is overwhelmingly Baptist, and Springfield Missouri is the worldwide headquarters for the Assemblies of God. Most of these kids are shocked when I tell them the truth.

While it is true that here in the Bible Belt, the Baptists and Pentecostals are the "big boys" on the block, that only applies to a small segment of the North American continent. Outside of that geographical region, which really isn't all that big, the numbers radically change. The most dominant form of Christianity in North America is Catholicism. The same is true for South America and all of the Americas. In fact, the most dominant form of Christianity throughout the world is Catholicism. Take a look at the bar chart below. The numbers are based on a composite from multiple reliable sources around the Internet; particularly Google, Wikipedia and Adherents.com. Here is the breakdown in estimated numbers...
The graph is based on composite numbers from multiple sources. It reflects the number of people
who adhere to Trinitarian Christianity.

Christianity Worldwide
Catholic1,200,000,000
Orthodox300,000,000
Oriental86,000,000
African60,000,000
Pentecostal280,000,000
Reformed75,000,000
Anglican85,000,000
Baptist75,000,000
Methodists75,000,000
Lutheran70,000,000
Nondenominational80,000,000
Adventist17,000,000
Apostolic10,000,000
Restoration7,000,000
Brethren1,500,000
Anabaptist3,500,000
ESTIMATED TOTAL2,425,000,000

In this chart and graph above, I only included those Christian groups with over 1 million members. I grouped the catholic churches toward the top, meaning those with authentic holy orders, sacraments and apostolic origins. The Protestants begin with the "African" churches on down. As I said, these are groups, and many denominations can be part of one group. For example, in this chart, Pentecostal consists of 21 specific denominations that are categorised as Pentecostal in nature. Baptist consists of 40 different Baptist denominations, of which the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest, having 16 million members. Nondenominational consists of 5 mainstream affiliations, of which the Calvary Chapel affiliation is disputably the largest. The so-called Restoration group is commonly known as the Church of Christ, Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ. The Anabaptists are commonly known as the Mennonites and Amish. I did not include non-Trinitarian groups, such as the Mormon (15 million), Jehovah's Witness (8 million), Oneness Pentecostal (6 million), Unitarian Universalist (less than a million), and Christian Scientists (less than a million).

Now keep in mind, these numbers do not reflect actual practising Christians. They merely reflect those who officially identify with a particular type of Christianity. Here are some facts we can glean...
  • There are about 2.4 billion Christians in the world, meaning those who adhere to the doctrine of the Trinity.
  • The Catholic Church is by far the world's largest Christian Church with 1.2 billion members.
  • The Eastern Orthodox churches are a distant second with just 1/4 the members (300 million).
  • Worldwide, the three largest Christian groups are (1) Catholic, (2) Eastern Orthodox, and (3) Pentecostal -- in that order.
  • All Protestant churches combined constitute a total 839 million souls, which is just 3/4 the size of the Catholic Church at 1.2 billion souls.
  • The world's largest Protestant group is the Pentecostals, consisting of dozens of different denominations, comprising 280 million souls. That's less than one quarter of the Catholic Church.
  • Worldwide, there are about the same amount of Baptists as there are Methodists -- 75 million each.
  • Worldwide, there are more Anglicans than there are Baptists.
  • Worldwide, the three largest Protestant groups are: Pentecostal, Anglican and nondenominational.
These are humbling statistics for most of the Christians here in the Ozarks. The Assemblies of God, which is part of Pentecostalism, can take comfort in knowing that it is within the world's largest Protestant group, which leaves the Baptists behind by over 200 million souls. I'm not picking on the Baptists here. Rather, I'm just trying to put things into perspective. When living in the Bible Belt of the USA, one would easily think that Baptists are the majority of the world's Christians. Actually worldwide, they only make up a very tiny minority.

Now lets break it down to the United States. In the United States there are about 108 million Protestants of various groups and only about 57 million Catholics. This clearly makes the United States a Protestant country. In spite of that, however, the Catholic Church remains the largest united Christian body, with the Baptists coming in at a distant second with about 36 million members of multiple denominations. The largest "unified" Protestant denomination in the United States is the Southern Baptist Convention with a membership of nearly 16 million. So if we want to look at unified Christian churches alone in the United States, it would be (1) The Catholic Church with 57 million, then (2) The South Baptist Convention with 16 million, and finally (3) The United Methodist Church with nearly 8 million. Here is the full breakdown, based on groups as a graph and table chart...
Christianity in the United States
Catholic57,199,000
Orthodox1,044,000
Pentecostal7,948,000
Presbyterian4,723,000
Anglican2,405,000
Baptist36,148,000
Methodist11,366,000
Lutheran8,674,000
Nondenominational32,441,000
Adventist938,000
Restoration2,657,000
Anabaptist600,000
ESTIMATED TOTAL166,143,000

While the numbers tell part of the story, they don't tell the whole story. A lot of our perceptions are based upon where we live, and the concentration of particular denominational groups to specific regions. The United States is highly compartmentalised by religion, as the following map from the 2010 census will illustrate...


As you can see from this map, it tells quite a story which is interwoven with America's turbulent religious history, much of which is centred around national origin. While one can easily find members of all different denominations in every part of the country, this map reveals their concentration. As you can see, Catholics occupy most of the country as reflected in the demographic numbers above. As for non-Catholics, the most significant concentration is in the Bible Belt, in red, which is essentially Baptist. It stretches from north Texas and Oklahoma eastward, jotting up and filling most of the states of Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia, filling in every state southward, with only the southern tips of Florida, Louisiana and Texas left to Catholics. This Bible Belt region is made up by people originating from British and African descent. It is deeply connected to the geographical boundaries of the Old South or Dixie. Just above the (Baptist) Bible Belt in red, we have the Methodist Belt in green. It's not nearly as pronounced but definitely present. It stretches from Kansas and Nebraska, jotting up over Missouri, through Iowa, and then back down across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia. These are areas of the United States settled primarily by British and Germans. In the upper north-central region of the United States we have the Lutheran Quarter. It encompasses Minnesota, North Dakota, and small segments of Montana and South Dakota. This area was primarily settled by Germans and Scandinavians. The last notable area is the Mormon Quarter. While not Trinitarian, and therefore not historically "Christian" in a doctrinal sense, it is noteworthy that this group occupies such a large region of the United States. It consists of Utah, Idaho, half of Wyoming, as well as large swaths of Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon. The vast majority of Mormons in the United States are of European descent, but it is difficult to ascertain what parts of Europe their ancestry originates from. Statistically speaking, British and German would be the highest likely demographic. Mormonism is truly an "American religion" having been founded and formed entirely in the United States. There are no Old World connections, neither to Catholicism nor Protestantism.

So we can see how where you live in the United States affects your views of religion in the world. A child growing up in the Bible Belt is likely to think the majority of Christianity is Baptist, or something akin to Baptist, regardless of what religion that child is.  Likewise, a child growing up in the Methodist Belt might think the majority of Christianity is Methodist, or something akin to that. While a child growing up in the Lutheran Quarter might be inclined to think the same about Lutheranism. A child growing up in the Mormon Quarter might be inclined to think the same about Mormonism. Statistically and demographically speaking, the majority of the Christian world is Catholic. Protestants make up a minority, and when put all together, they still don't measure up to 3/4 the size of the Catholic Church. However, putting them together is just a statistical game. Protestants are generally not unified and a good number of them do not associate with each other. When we break it down to actual Protestant groups, meaning those groups that generally do associate and identify with each other, even the Eastern Orthodox churches (which are essentially catholic) outnumber the largest Protestant group. When I say the majority of the Christian world is catholic, I mean the overwhelming majority. It's something most Americans just don't grasp, especially those in the Bible Belt. As of recent years, I've heard a lot of Protestants talk about working toward unity with other Christians. This is commendable, but I would like to remind those Protestants that unless this unity involves some kind of reconciliation with Catholics, it won't be much of a unity at all.

------------------------------------------------------

Click Image to Learn More
Highly recommended by priests and catechists, "Catholicism for Protestants" is a Biblical explanation of Roman Catholic Christianity as told by Shane Schaetzel -- an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism.  The book is concise and formatted in an easy-to-read Question & Answer catechism style.  It addresses many of the common questions Protestants have about Catholicism. It is ideal for Protestants seeking more knowledge about the Catholic Church, and for Catholics seeking a quick refresher course on fundamental Catholic teaching. It's an excellent book for Catholics and Protestants alike!

THE BOOK CONTAINS A
NIHIL OBSTAT AND 
IMPRIMATUR
ORDER YOUR COPY HERE

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

What Makes A Christian?


Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Baptist Church in California
Author of The Purpose Driven Life

Are Catholics Christians?  That was the title of one of the first articles I wrote for this blog. It was also one of my most popular articles. You can read it here. So what makes a Christian?  I mean, at least doctrinally speaking anyway. We can debate about a person's behaviour all we want. That's not the topic of this article. What I want to discuss here is what makes a Christian in a doctrinal sense. Maybe to be more specific, we should ask what defines Christianity, doctrinally speaking?  In modern society, we just take this sort of thing for granted. I mean what makes a Christian different from a Jew or a Muslim? They both believe in one God -- right? So couldn't we call a Muslim a Christian, or a Christian a Muslim? Can't the two terms be interchangeable? Well, not exactly.

You see, religions are defined by their understanding of God. This is why Pagans and Christians are not the same thing. Pagans believe in many gods, and worship them. Christians believe in only one God. We are monotheist, as opposed to polytheist. This distinction, between the number of gods, is a very large distinction, and it defines the respective religions. So you see, a religion, in the most simple of all breakdowns, is defined by its understanding of God.

Modern Jews and Muslims define God as absolute one. They are hyper-monotheists. In their understanding of God, there is no room for anything but one divine Person. While there are more distinctions between their respective understanding of God, this form of hyper-monotheism defines them. Christians however, have a modified monotheist approach. We believe in the Trinity, which is to say one God, eternally existent in three Divine Persons. Now this approach may seem strange to outsiders, but there is actually a very logical and profound reason for this. This definition of God has many other facets that further elaborate on it. From the Trinity comes the understanding of the Incarnation, which is to say that the Second Person of the Trinity (called "The Word" or "The Son") took upon himself human flesh and lived as a man named Jesus of Nazareth. From this understanding of the Incarnation we begin to get a better grasp of the Atonement, which is the teaching that God The Son, Jesus Christ, took upon himself all the sins of humanity, and paid the penalty for them on the cross, opening the gates of heaven to mankind, and then rose from the dead to demonstrate his victory over sin and death. These three doctrines -- the Trinity, Incarnation and Atonement -- are intimately tied together, each one further elaborating on the other, creating the religion we know today as Christianity. There are many variations of Christianity today. These are known as communions, branches, denominations, affiliations and sects. But all of them are under the one religion of Christianity.

So what is Christianity in it's most stripped down, bear bones, absolute minimal doctrine.  It is...
  1. The Trinity
  2. The Incarnation
  3. The Atonement
Now admittedly that is a very minimal approach. If that's all there was, we would be left a little incomplete. Nevertheless, there is a whole lot packed into those three statements consisting of just six words.

The Catholic Church dose not have a problem recognising the essential Christianity in anyone who adheres to these three doctrines listed above. For the Catechism of the Catholic Church explicitly says... 
1240 In the Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister's words: "N., I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." In the Eastern liturgies the catechumen turns toward the East and the priest says: "The servant of God, N., is baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." At the invocation of each person of the Most Holy Trinity, the priest immerses the candidate in the water and raises him up again.
1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptised are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church." "Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn."
818 "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."
So in the Catholic Church, the criteria necessary for being recognised as a Christian, in the most basic and minimalist sense, is to be baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The idea here being that as the doctrine of the Trinity is contemplated fully, the other two doctrines of the Incarnation and the Atonement will be revealed. Catholic Christians, as a matter of Catholic faith, are required to recognise as "Christian" anyone who is baptised in the name of the Trinity.

Wow!  That's a pretty generous application when you really stop and think about it. That means, as a practising Catholic, I have to recognise as "Christian" brethren, anyone who was baptised in and professes faith in the Trinity. Who does this include? Well, it generally includes the Eastern Orthodox, and all of the following Protestant denominations...
  • Lutheran
  • Evangelical
  • Mennonite
  • Amish 
  • Reformed
  • Presbyterian
  • Anglican
  • Methodist
  • Puritan
  • Baptist
  • Pentecostal (with the exception of "Oneness Pentecostal")
  • Assemblies of God
  • Charismatic
  • Church of the Nazarene
  • Seventh Day Adventist
  • Salvation Army
There are of course many more, and well as a host of non-denominational, interdenominational and unaffiliated churches. It certainly doesn't include all churches, simply because some do not teach the Trinity, but as you can see by the list above, the vast majority do. As a Catholic, I would have to acknowledge any baptised member of one of these churches as a fellow Christian and my brother or sister in Christ. Granted, our communion is incomplete. It is less than perfect, because they are not Catholic, but it is a communion nonetheless. 

On the flip side, Protestants, historically and currently, have a harder time with reciprocation, especially with Catholics. This would include many within the list above. Some don't even acknowledge each other as Christian, so it's not surprising that they would exclude Catholicism from their definition of Christianity as well. There is nothing new about this. Indeed, Protestantism was originally founded on the assumption that the Catholic Church had apostate from the Christian faith. Granted, most mainline Protestant denominations have moderated that tone in subsequent centuries, but many of the newer denominations have stuck with it more militantly. Within all of these denominations and groups, one can easily find Protestant individuals who are willing to reach out to Catholics and acknowledge our Christianity. However, that doesn't necessarily mean their church would approve. For example; I know many Baptists and Pentecostals in my personal life. Most of them have been very open and forward in acknowledging me as a Christian brother. Some have even gone out of their way to do so. However, I also know a little bit about their respective churches. Some of their churches would approve of their actions toward me and some would not. In fact, I know of a couple of Baptists and Pentecostals who would be told to stop affirming me as their Christian brother if their pastors knew what they were doing. This is all just part of the overall condition Protestantism finds itself in these days. I certainly don't take it personally, and I never have, nor should any Catholic.

One of the most famous Protestant evangelists of recent memory was Billy Graham. Having a clear focus for keeping things simple, and trying to preach the gospel as clearly as he possibly could, Graham was well known for refusing to pull Catholics out of the Catholic Church. When Catholics would attend one of his crusades, and they would make the customary "altar call" (which is really just saying a prayer to accept Christ as personal Lord and Saviour) Graham would advise his counsellors to tell Catholics they should return to mass and the sacraments for further instruction. Typically, Evangelical "altar calls" (again, there is usually no altar, this is just an expression) are accompanied with an encouragement for non-Evangelicals to leave their previous religious tradition behind and become Evangelicals. Indeed, this is how many Catholics leave the Catholic Church. They attend an Evangelical crusade of some sort, participate in an "altar call" and are then advised to leave the Catholic Church. Graham broke with this custom, and focused instead on the message of salvation through Christ himself, and forming a personal relationship with him. Beyond that, Graham sought to return Catholics (and many other Christians) back to their churches for further instruction and growth. In his autobiography, Graham wrote...
"He [Willis Haymaker] would also call on the local Catholic bishop or other clerics to acquaint them with Crusade plans and invite them to the meetings; they would usually appoint a priest to attend and report back. This was years before Vatican II's openness to Protestants, but we were concerned to let the Catholic bishops see that my goal was not to get people to leave their church; rather, I wanted them to commit their lives to Christ." -- Billy Graham, Just As I Am, page 163  
"My goal, I always made clear, was not to preach against Catholic beliefs or to proselytise people who were already committed to Christ within the Catholic Church. Rather, it was to proclaim the Gospel to all those who had never truly committed their lives to Christ." -- Billy Graham, Just As I Am, page 357
"We also suspected, with some justification, that some of the hard-line Communist officials hoped to use an American Protestant evangelist to weaken the strong authority of the Roman Catholic Church. If so, it was a naive hope; I would not have done or said anything that might be taken as anti-Catholic." -- Billy Graham, Just As I Am, page 482 
"When we left Hungary, we set off on a brief trip to the Vatican. Years before, I had visited the city-state as a tourist, but on this trip I was to be received by Pope John Paul II, my first visit with a pope. As I was ushered into his quarters, Pope John Paul II greeted me, and we shook hands warmly. I found him extremely cordial and very interested in our ministry, especially in his homeland. After only a few minutes, I felt as if we had known each other for many years. He also expressed great delight at the small gift I had brought him, a woodcarving of a shepherd with his sheep, done by a North Carolina craftsman. We recalled together Jesus' words in John 10:14,16.... In turn the pope gave me a medallion commemorating his papacy and several magnificently bound volumes." -- Billy Graham, Just As I Am, pages 488-489 
"I was asked by Pope John Paul II to participate with him during that same time period in an unprecedented ecumenical service of worship during his visit to Colombia, South Carolina. It was not to be a Mass but a service of Scripture, prayer, and preaching. I was to speak on the subject of the family. I was looking forward to that event, especially since the pope and I had a cordial relationship." -- Billy Graham, Just As I Am, page 599
"One whom I have yet to mention - and with whom I felt a special affinity - was Roman Catholic preacher Bishop Fulton L. Sheen." -- Billy Graham, Just As I Am, page 692 
For this generous and ecumenical attitude toward Catholics, Billy Graham was (and continues to be) savaged by various Protestant Fundamentalists, who have called him everything from a "false teacher," to a "wolf in sheep's clothing." Again, this is nothing new. As I said above, all of Protestantism (from which these various denominations came) was originally founded five-hundred years ago on the prospect that the Roman Catholic Church had apostate from the Christian faith. They said it was no longer Christian. So modern Protestant Fundamentalists are simply being consistent with the Protestant founders. Any Evangelical, Baptist or Pentecostal preacher, be he a pastor or evangelist, walks a precariously narrow line when he steps outside this foundational principle of Protestantism. Indeed, many of these men have come to a better understanding of the truth, realising that there are strong elements of Christianity within Catholicism. But to actually speak about this understanding is very dangerous business in the Evangelical Protestant world. Few venture to tread down this path. Billy Graham was one of them, and he was quite probably the greatest Protestant evangelist of the 20th century. While many Protestant Fundamentalists are quick to write him off as a "heretic" because of his warm relations with Catholics, 20th century Protestantism would be a bleak and lonely religion without him. He was, in my estimation, one of the greatest men in Protestant history. There have been many who have followed in his footsteps, but none can fill his shoes.

This calls to mind my own epiphany while I was an Evangelical. It was that moment when I too, like Billy Graham before me, came to that realisation that Christianity extends far beyond my own Evangelical sphere. Indeed, with the narrow definition many Fundamentalists put on Christianity, scarcely anyone outside of Evangelical Protestantism (such as Baptist, Pentecostal, Charismatic or Adventist) could be considered Christian. Sometimes these groups don't even recognise each other as Christian. (As an anecdotal side note, I've even witnessed one Baptist church tell a Baptist woman, from another kind of Baptist church, that she would have to be "re-baptised" because they did not recognise her as a Christian.) It was shortly after I moved to the Ozark Mountains when I, as an Evangelical, came to the realisation that this line of thinking is just ridiculous! For if Christianity really is defined by the narrow criteria of Fundamentalists, then virtually nobody outside of North America can be Christian (except for a few missionary pockets here and there). Indeed, as I later came to study history, almost all Europeans for the last 2,000 years would have to be excluded from Christianity. Even the Protestant founders themselves would be questionable. This was absurd. On the flip side, I knew that liberal relativism was not the answer either. There had to be specific doctrinal criteria for what defined a Christian, but I knew it had to be simple. It was after reading authors like Billy Graham, and Dr. Walter Martin, that I came to accept the threefold minimal doctrines as defining Christianity: Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement. Naturally, upon accepting this, I was willing to take a second look at Catholicism as well. While I had many strong issues against the Catholic Church at the time, I was willing to acknowledge, as Christians, those who were its members in spite of the Church. As an Evangelical, this was a big step for me. It would be some years before I finally looked into the actual teachings of the Catholic Church as told by the Catechism. Only then would I begin to understand that Catholicism is Christianity to its fullest!

Other Evangelicals are coming to the same conclusion, and some of them are megachurch pastors. In Sweden recently, the pastor for the nation's largest Evangelical megachurch, Ulf Ekman, actually converted to Catholicism. While in the United States, Southern Baptist Pastor Rick Warren, of the Saddleback Baptist megachurch in Lake Forest, California, has come out speaking the truth about Catholics and the Catholic Church. You can watch the video above or by clicking here.

Pastor Warren has publicly acknowledged Catholics as Christians and the Catholic Church as a Christian institution. For this, in predictable fashion, he is being brutally cannibalised by some of his more Fundamentalist Baptist brethren. His sanity and very Christianity are now being called into question. There is no word yet as to whether or not the Southern Baptist Convention will take any disciplinary action. We Catholics should pray for this man, that he will at least have the courage to hold the narrow line, as Billy Graham did, if not completely swim the Tiber, as Pastor Ulf Ekman did. By making this bold statement, Pastor Rick Warren is calling out many other megachurch pastors to ecumenical recognition of Catholics, as well as other Christians. Let us pray his message does not fall on too many deaf ears.

------------------------------------------------------

Click Image to Learn More
Highly recommended by priests and catechists, "Catholicism for Protestants" is a Biblical explanation of Roman Catholic Christianity as told by Shane Schaetzel -- an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism.  The book is concise and formatted in an easy-to-read Question & Answer catechism style.  It addresses many of the common questions Protestants have about Catholicism. It is ideal for Protestants seeking more knowledge about the Catholic Church, and for Catholics seeking a quick refresher course on fundamental Catholic teaching. It's an excellent book for Catholics and Protestants alike!

THE BOOK CONTAINS A
NIHIL OBSTAT AND 
IMPRIMATUR
ORDER YOUR COPY HERE