I have a question. Some of you newer readers don't know that when I started writing this blog I was intensely wrestling with Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and that is reflected in my early writing. I think many of the Catholics and Orthodox who used to read this are long-gone, having given up on me coming to a conclusion that will satisfy them.
But - for those of you that are still here, I have a question.
Many of you know that Isaac and I volunteer as mentors for newly arrived refugee families - we've been through two families. The second family is just absolutely precious - Tee Reh and Soh Meh and their little girl are a darling couple. Tee Reh is intelligent and hard-working and they are kind and motivated and flexible. I just love them.
So there's the thing. They are Catholic. We are great with that. When they first told us they are Catholic they put it like this, "We are Catholic, not Christian."
So, there is a basic misunderstanding in what "Christian" means and how it relates to "Catholic". They think that "Christian" mean "Protestant" and that Catholicism and Protestantism are at odds with each other. They are right historically, of course.
But really, we are Protestants but we don't care if they are or aren't. As long as they are under the broad "Christian" umbrella, I believe they can know Christ and salvation, and I have no reason to persuade them to join us in our particular camp.
Here is the dilemma. How do we encourage them in their faith without seeming to push them away from their Church? See, I'm nervous that they may not actually understand the Gospel or the faith they verbally adhere to. This is not because they are Catholic, I think it could be just as true if they said they were "Baptist" (as did the first refugee couple - and indeed I think when they got to the US they were merely Christian because that's what their tribe is and had no understanding of scripture or the Gospel). Cultural Christianity is a problem in all areas of the Church. The thing is, if they were Protestants I would feel free to talk to them about their church, their faith, scripture, etc. I would feel free to pray for them, I could go to their church and talk to to the leaders, etc.
Because they are Catholic, though, they think I do not share their faith and so any encouragement I may have about faith would be viewed as suspect. How can a Protestant encourage a Catholic to take their own church and faith seriously? They have told us that they go to a Catholic church and they participate in the rituals but they don't understand what anyone is saying.
So, if you are Catholic - how would you want a Protestant to talk to someone who is culturally Catholic but hasn't yet engaged with the church or their faith very seriously? I do not wish to pull them away - I wish to encourage them to know Christ more and more in the context of the Catholic church.