Mistaken Identity

If you have been in an evangelical church for any amount of time, I am sure you have heard the cliched sayings and opinions about other Christian denominations. Being saved in a small Baptist Church in north Texas, I heard many absurd accusations pointed towards other denominations that I simply accepted and myself promoted. However, as a branch of the Christian faith (Evangelical Christians), we ought to make sure what we are saying is true.

Recently I heard this one. You have most likely seen an image of Jesus hanging on the cross. This particular speaker akin this image to the Catholic Church and their supposed belief that they deny the resurrection of Jesus and this image of Jesus on the Cross is evidence. I want to address this issue in two ways: The false implications of memorializing and What do they really believe?

The false implications of memorializing: I believe this is the logical problem with this situation. From the speakers perspective, he sees that Jesus is on a cross thus the implications is a denial of everything that happened after this life event in Jesus’ life, mainly resurrection. Seemingly, since the cross is not empty, this means that the tomb is not empty. Question, during Christmas time, do you place a nativity scene over the fire place in your home? If so, does this remembering of Jesus birth thus imply that your family denies the miracles of Jesus, the death of Jesus on a cross, and the resurrection of Jesus? Of course not! Just because you memorialize something in the form of an image does not mean you disbelieve all subsequent events.

Take for another example the school I graduated from, Dallas Theological Seminary. This statue of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples would mean that the school denies all events after this. Of course not, that would be absurd. But how do we find out what they really do believe? How would you find out what Dallas Theological Seminary really believes? How do we find out what the Catholic church really believes? It’s easy, they have told us. Simply look at their statement of belief, yes, their doctrinal statements.

What do they really believe: The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads,

“The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross.” (Part 1, Sec 2, Article 5, Para 2)

Again we read about the empty tomb,

“The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise. Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection.”

I could go on and on citing various Catholic doctrines, but the point of this post is to encourage evangelical Christians to stop and think about what they are saying about other Christian Churches. Realize the absurdity of their logical that leads them to conclusions that are simply untrue. To memorialize the risen Lord on the Cross in no way is a denial of our Lord’s resurrection. One, realize the logical is faulty. Two, actually go and look/read what they believe.

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4 responses to “Mistaken Identity

  1. Yes, you’re right, Kevin. Many times, evangelical churches seem to feel the need to defend not only God’s Word, (which it should)but they seem to have a need to defend their traditional way of doing things. Like for instance, not long ago, I heard it said, in mocking tones, that a man should always stand to preach in the pulpit, and never sit on a stool, and teach. I have not been able to find in the Word of God that a man must never sit on a stool to preach, and while I have never attended a church where the preacher sat on a stool, I see nothing wrong with it; nor do I have a problem with quiet teaching rather than the traditional fervor of the evangelical preaching style. I am sure that God uses them both.

    When people feel the need to defend things like this, it may be because of insecurity. These traditions seem very important to them, and they are afraid of losing them, and mentioning them in the pulpit could be a way of making sure that everything stays the way that they want it to in their particular church. In other words, sometimes it is a way to control a group of people. As Christians, we are to follow God rather than men, and make sure that our beliefs come from the Word of God, and not the traditions of men.

    • Thanks Gail for commenting. That is a great example of traditionalism being trumpeted dogmatically. I think my post is even more to the point of those who flat out lie and misrepresent another persons view. To say Catholics don’t believe in the resurrection is to say they are not Christian (a very serious accusation). To say someone should not preach from a sitting position is just silly theology. You are correct though in what you say, we often have a tendency to take secondary beliefs in the faith and make them major doctrines. I say, minor on the minors…major on the majors.

  2. Thank you for posting this. As a Catholic, I appreciate it when someone sets the record straight in such a nice way. Once when I was a little girl, a woman scolded me for wearing a crucifix. She told me that if her husband died in a car accicent she would not wear a volkswagen around her neck to remind her every day about it. My grandmother said “You WOULD if it had meant your soul was saved because of it”!!

    • Hello Bev. Thanks so much for appreciating my view here. Yeah, the person scolding you just doesn’t realize the significance of the cross event and the forgiveness of sins found there. We memorialize the event by wearing a cross. I agree with the woman that I would not wear a Volkswagen around my neck, but that would be because the husband did not die for the sins of the world. We are saved not by wearing something, going to something, saying something, or doing something. We are saved by grace through faith and this gracious act by God saving an individual is evidenced by a repentant heart being born again, brought from death to new life. Thanks for commenting.

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