I had the privilege of talking to one of my students yesterday who is a Catholic. I must admit that I have been rather naive about Catholic’s beliefs. I have assumed that they are basically all Christians with some different/incorrect theology. In the ten minute conversation I had with her, I realized that she is lost, despite her sixteen years in the Catholic church.
I am now starting to understand that while some Catholics are Christians, there are many who are not. They are following a different set of Scriptures (including the Apocrypha as inspired) as well as following the doctrines of their Catechism. A great starting resource for understanding the differences between Protestant and Catholic beliefs is Mark Cahill’s talk: Roman Catholicism vs. The Bible
As I talked with this student, I asked her about some of her beliefs. She told me about purgatory, but ironically enough couldn’t really tell me what it was. This is significant as this is a place she plans to spend some time after she dies. I personally would want to know what it is like!
I also asked her about confession and the process of getting out of purgatory. I asked her, “If Catholics believe that all these things must be done by us to eventually get to heaven, why did Jesus come to die?” She was really confused and said she had never thought about it before. I did a quick presentation of the fact that we have broken God’s law and that is why Jesus came to die- to pay for our sins. I explained that there is no way for us to be good enough on our own; we need a Savior. She really was thinking about it by the time we parted ways. She was confused and said nobody had ever asked her that question.
I know that the Lord is using conversations like this to open my eyes to the lost all around me. I do not want to ever assume that someone has heard the gospel, knows the gospel, or is saved based on a religious affiliation, church attendance, or any other potential indications of a belief system. Religious zeal is giving many people a false security about their eternal state. True salvation is found only in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross including His death, burial, and resurrection.