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.