Why do Catholics and Protestants remain divided?

Here is my take on why John Wesley was not Roman Catholic.

First, he was Anglican in a country that had bloody history between Catholics and non-Catholics.

Second, he thought Roman Catholic teaching was anti- or extra-biblical on many points. And Wesley was devoted to being biblical in all things.

Third, he thought Roman Catholic practice was contrary to scriptural holiness. Ordinary Roman Catholics and many of the priests did not reflect any particular interest in the holiness that Wesley believed was essential to Christianity.

I muse on this because I am wondering how the bulk of the United Methodist Church today explains why we are not Roman Catholic. Judging from my Facebook and Twitter feed, a huge number of United Methodist clergy are big fans of Pope Francis. I know many United Methodists who quote and appreciate Catholic writers.

So, why the continuing divide?

Here is my friend Jeremiah Gibbs’ explanation about why Protestants and Roman Catholics are still divided.

I’m not aware of a Roman Catholic take on this same question, although I’m certain it is a topic of discussion. I’m just ignorant of most of it. My impression — and by this I mean watching EWTN on TV —  is one strain of Catholic conversation on this is more along the lines of “Why haven’t those Protestants come back yet?” The notion that we are somehow prodigals lingers in the background.

I was at an ecumenical conference about the Eucharist in the last couple years . It had Protestants and Roman Catholics on the panel and in attendance. Appropriately enough, at the end of the conference we celebrated Holy Communion. But before we could, one of the Roman Catholic speakers expressed his regret that, of course, he could not join us in that celebration. He said he hoped one day that would not be the case.

So, I suppose, I would add that to Gibbs’ list. Sacramental theology still deeply divides us. Gibbs mentions that topic, but my experience is the depth of this issue is a fundamental rift between the branches of the church.

What do you think?

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36 thoughts on “Why do Catholics and Protestants remain divided?

  1. Great topic, John, and Jeremiah does a very fair job of expressing what continues to divide. Particularly as it relates to faith and works, I would argue that Catholics and Methodists are closer together than Methodists and Reformed or semi-Reformed folk. That’s neither here nor there, but I would encourage Methodists to consider why they might use, say, Baptist curriculum over Catholic curriculum within the local church. We have at least as much in common with Catholics as with other folks, and perhaps more.

    I believe there are only three issues that continue to divide Catholics and Methodists. The sacramental theology on the whole is not much of an issue. Both bodies believe in baptismal regeneration. Both bodies believe that God’s grace is present in some way through the Eucharist. Closed communion, though, seems to me to be the hot button issue with most Methodists. Catholics view the sacraments as God’s grace mediated through the Church. Methodists view the sacraments as God’s grace, period. Either Methodists need a more robust understanding of the nature of the church, or Catholics need a more robust understanding of the nature of God’s grace. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

    Second, I try to pray the Divine Office every day, and I have received very great benefit from it. That said, I always stop short of ending my day with a Hail Mary. It’s not that I have any particular problem with the Hail Mary. It’s more that it doesn’t seem right to me that a person should end his/her day or life by asking for a prayer of intercession. In that sense, the extent of the mariology bothers me. The Co-Redemptrix tendencies do, in fact, seem to work themselves out in daily Catholic life.

    Finally, what does a Protestant pastor do if s/he joins the Catholic Church? I have a tough time believing that I couldn’t be a pretty effective priest, but a wife and three kids automatically disqualifies me.

    1. In the case of Anglicans, I thought the RC had some special exceptions set up.

        1. Holly,

          Your response reminds me that there really is no one or two reasons for continued division. For me it’s mariology and ordination for married folk. For you it’s female ordination. Everyone has a different cause, or struggle, and it seems that even Methodism (don’t know you, so I’m not sure you’re Methodist) is too diverse to say “these are the reasons.”

          Many blessings,
          Adam

      1. Anglicans yes, but I don’t think that applies to Methodists. I would probably be on the higher church end up the spectrum within Methodism, but I’d be very unprepared at this point to lead a Catholic liturgy. I think that’s the reason Anglicans priests have been allowed to be Catholic priests…Familiarity with the worship, and all the rubrics that go with it.

        1. The Roman Catholic Church has approved a handful of married former United Methodists (Scott Medlock, for example, who is now in the Anchorage diocese), but there is no formal path to the priesthood, unlike Anglicans who have an entire ordinariate devoted to converts. It is very rare, though.

    2. I don’t think baptismal regeneration is official doctrine in the UMC, though our baptismal liturgies tend to open themselves up to that (some evangelicals alter its usage slightly by saying that baptism is “the promise of the new birth” and not the new birth itself). By Water & The Spirit says, “new birth may not always coincide with the moment of the administration of water or the laying on of hands,” and we do not say that you have to be baptized to be saved (http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/faqs-baptism), both of which aren’t very much like “baptismal regeneration,” wherein you are given the new birth at the moment of your baptism.

      I’m not in a place yet to really put my own high-church evangelicalism into practice, but I think when we talk about the Catholic/Protestant divide, we’re forgetting that “Protestant” is used as a catch-all that covers as widely diverging groups as Methodists, Baptists, Quakers and Amish. Each group will have its own issues with Roman Catholicism.

      As a Methodist, my biggest issues with Roman Catholicism are mariology, Roman Catholic beliefs about purgatory and works of supererogation/invoking the saints, and the denial of salvation by faith alone through grace alone. One of the places I agree with the RCC most is also one wherein I disagree most: holy living is important to both the RCC and Methodism, but the RCC seems to undercut that by its doctrine that you will be saved in the end if you don’t get yourself excommunicated from the RCC before you die.

      1. Thank you for the response, James. As you mention, we seem hesitant to say that regeneration can occur only in the sacrament, but “Variously identified as regeneration, new birth, and being born again, this work of grace makes us into new spiritual creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17)…new birth may not always coincide with the moment of the administration of water or the laying on of hands…But, in whatever way the reality of the new birth is experienced, it carries out the promises God made to us in our baptism.”

        I do not want to say that God’s work is bound to the sacrament but, at the same time, I do not want to divorce God’s regenerating grace from the sacrament. I would concede, however, that the official UMC position is as difficult to pin down on the issue.

  2. I admire much about the Catholic Church and do in fact feel closer to it than I do to some of my Protestant brothes and sisters. And certainly faithful Catholics are members of the “one holy, catholic and apostolic church.” The sacraments, however, are still a point of institutional division on the issue of transubtantiation. This is not simply a matter of theological word-miffery about which we can have a good disussion at dinner some night. It has practical consequences in how (and what) we worship. Our Article of Religion 16 makes this point in its statement: “The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about; but that we should duly use them” — and 18 – “The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshiped.” The adoration of the blessed sacrament is a practice in which I could not engage.

    The liturgical practices of venerating saints and praying for the faithful departed who are not yet saints also continues to be a point of division. Article of Religion 14 addresses these issues.

    So for me, the ongoing points of division are related not primarily to differences of opinion that have no practical effect, but in the decisions those doctrines force us to make about what we actually do as a church.

    For a similar reason, disagreements in our own denomination around who are proper subjects for marriage and ordination are not simply matters about which we can agree to disagree. Our theology forces us to make choices about what we do and how we live together as the people of God in Christ.

  3. The most crucial problem with the Roman Catholic Church is its belief that faith alone in Christ is not sufficient for salvation. The Bible clearly and consistently states that receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, by grace through faith, grants salvation. The Roman Catholic Church rejects this. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that a person must believe in Jesus Christ AND be baptized AND receive the Eucharist along with the other sacraments AND obey the decrees of the Roman Catholic Church AND perform meritorious works AND not die with any mortal sins AND etc., etc., etc. Catholic divergence from the Bible on this most crucial of issues, salvation, means to me personally that, Catholicism is a false religion. If a person believes what the Catholic Church officially teaches, he/she will not be saved. Any claim that works or rituals must be added to faith in order for salvation to be achieved is a claim that Jesus’ death was not sufficient to fully purchase our salvation.

    While salvation by faith is the most crucial issue, in comparing Roman Catholicism with the Word of God, there are many other differences and contradictions as well. The Roman Catholic Church teaches many doctrines that are in disagreement with what the Bible declares. These include apostolic succession, worship of saints or Mary, prayer to saints or Mary, the pope / papacy, infant baptism, transubstantiation, plenary indulgences, the sacramental system, and purgatory. While Catholics claim Scriptural support for these concepts, none of these teachings have any solid foundation in the clear teaching of Scripture. These concepts are based on Catholic tradition, not the Word of God. In fact, they all clearly contradict Biblical principles.

    At the same time, the Catholic Church also leads many people away from a genuine faith relationship with Christ. The unbiblical beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church have often given the enemies of Christ opportunity to blaspheme. The Roman Catholic Church is not the church that Jesus Christ established. It is not a church that is based on the teachings of the Apostles (as described in the Book of Acts and the New Testament epistles). While Jesus’ words in Mark 7:9 were directed towards the Pharisees, they accurately describe the Roman Catholic Church, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”

    1. I could spend all day debating you and I am not RC.
      I will point out one of the sacraments is last rights.
      Last rights can be given to non RC if a priest is called.
      Do you suppose a few given last rights have any works to refer to?

      I am also a huge supporter of private confession which is practiced in many branches of the Lutheran Church as well as in the Roman Catholic Church. I am not a fan of the compulsion other churches practice to tell the whole world their whole life story and every mistake they ever made.

    2. Duane,

      With respect, all things can be taken to an extreme, and faith without works is dead (James 2:24). If I do nothing while people suffer, or commit egregious sins with no regard to living as a Christian, no amount of “faith alone” will save me. Demons have faith alone in an intellectual sense, but they do not put on faith.

      Many blessings,
      Adam

      1. I’ve been asked before, Just how can you believe in salvation by faith alone when the only occurrence of ‘faith alone’ in the Bible (James 2:24) says that salvation is not by faith alone?”
        So….I will share my response with you and ask for additional feedback from you if that is okay? I do not deem myself as unteachable and in fact this blog has lead me to some deeper truths by the comments of some and the posts of John. I agree that it is entirely true that the one verse in the Bible that contains the exact phrase “faith alone” seems to argue against salvation by faith alone. James 2:24 reads, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (ESV). However, rejecting the doctrine of salvation by faith alone based on this verse has two major problems for me. First, the context of James 2:24 is not arguing against the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Second, the Bible does not need to contain the precise phrase “faith alone” in order to clearly teach salvation by faith alone.

        I think that James 2:14-26, as a whole, and especially verse 24, causes a lot of confusion. The passage definitely seems to cause serious problems for the “salvation by faith alone” concept. Again…this is where my personal studies have lead me….first, we need to clear up a misconception, namely, that James means the same thing by “justified” in James 2:24 that Paul means in Romans 3:28. Paul is using the word justified to mean “declared righteous by God.” Paul is speaking of God’s legal declaration of us as righteous as Christ’s righteousness is applied to our account. James is using the word justified to mean “being demonstrated and proven.”

        I often study from the King James…but also often cross reference with other version. I have a 2011 NIV which provides an excellent rendering of James 2:24: “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone”. Similarly, the NLT translation of James 2:24 reads, “So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone”. The entire James 2:14-26 passage is about proving the genuineness of your faith by what you do. A genuine salvation experience by faith in Jesus Christ WILL inevitably result in good works (Ephesians 2:10). The works are the demonstration and proof of faith (James 2:18). As you pointed out correctly….a faith without works is useless (James 2:20) and dead (James 2:17); in other words, it is not true faith at all. Here I think is where we part ways on our understanding of these Scriptures. For myself……salvation is by faith alone, but that faith will never be alone.

        Now I know that James 2:24 is the only verse which contains the precise phrase “faith alone,” …..but there are many other verses that do, in fact, teach salvation by faith alone. Please consider this…..any verse that ascribes salvation to faith/belief, with no other requirement mentioned, is a declaration that salvation is by faith alone. John 3:16 declares that salvation is given to “whoever believes in Him.” Acts 16:31 proclaims, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” See also Romans 3:28; 4:5; 5:1; Galatians 2:16; 3:24; Ephesians 1:13; and Philippians 3:9. Many other scriptures could be referenced in addition to these.

        If you were to read and meditate on the Scriptures I’ve given you may understand how it is that I truly believe that James 2:24 does not argue against salvation by faith alone. Rather, it argues against a salvation that IS alone, a salvation devoid of good works and obedience to God’s Word. James’s point is that we demonstrate our faith by what we do (James 2:18). Regardless of the absence of the precise phrase “faith alone,” the New Testament definitely teaches that salvation is the product of God’s grace in response to our faith. “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? . . . On that of faith” (Romans 3:27). There is no other requirement. Do you truly find my understanding as being missing the mark? I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts.

        Peace

        1. Hello Duane,

          Thank you for the response. I do not think your understanding is missing the mark in one sense, but I believe it is another sense. I agree that what James is essentially saying is that faith without works is no faith at all. I think it is anachronistic, though, to expect Catholics, Orthodox, and others to use the phrase “faith alone” to explain that process. The doctrine proper did not exist prior to the Reformation.

          I do also believe that most people misunderstand the Catholic and Orthodox understanding of faith and works. Paragraph 2010 of the Catholic catechism states what I believe is Biblically and historically the way that Christians have understood the nature of faith and works. I also believe most Protestants believe this to be the case, though we more formally delineate between justification and sanctification:

          “2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.”

          Hard as I try, I can see no fault with that definition of works or merit. Indeed, I find myself wondering how it is practically different than the very fine explanation you offered.

          Thank you again, Duane, and many blessings on your evening!
          Adam

  4. There is a lot of misunderstanding of Roman Catholic doctrine among the Non-Roman Catholic Churches. Grace is taught and believed in the RCC. Works are to follow. Is that any different than what you are taught? Martin Luther, Father of the Reformation, prayed to Mary mother of God.

    The reformation had and has a lot to do with how we, even today, have a certain amount of distrust of the RC. Martin Luther was not wrong in his charges against the RC at that time but is known to go a little extreme at times. Cults like the JW also played a major role in promoting that distrust.

    It seems to me John Wesley was not comfortable with one person having as much power as the Pope and that is evidenced by how the UMC is structured. I am not so sure Wesley’s way was any better considering recent history.

    It is amazing to me this Pope is so dear to so many so fast.
    One of the first official action of Pope Francis was is to defrock an excommunicate a priest.
    Today the news reports radical Nuns are the focus.
    So what is this Pope doing differently?

    1. All the grace we will ever need is received the moment we trust Jesus, by faith, as Savior (Ephesians 2:8-9). The saving grace that is granted at the moment of genuine faith is the only saving grace God’s Word calls on us to receive. This grace is received by faith, not by observing rituals. So, while the seven sacraments are “good things to do,” when they are understood in a biblical context, the concept of the seven sacraments as “conferring sanctifying grace” is completely unbiblical.

      Another disturbing aspect is the Catholic doctrine of purgatory which is the belief that man can and must pay for his own sins. This results in a low view of the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross. Simply put, the Roman Catholic view of salvation implies that Christ’s atonement on the cross was insufficient payment for the sins of those who believe in Him and that even a believer must pay for his own sins, either through acts of penance or time in purgatory. Yet the Bible teaches that it is Christ’s death alone that can satisfy or propitiate God’s wrath against sinners (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). Our works of righteousness cannot add to what Christ has already accomplished.

      1. “This results in a low view of the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross.”

        That is an opinion and it is not what the RC teaches.
        Are we better off today with the delineations of the sacraments?
        Take the sacrament of marriage.
        Would the church be in the position it is today if marriage was still considered a sacrament?

        All the grace we will ever need is received the moment we trust Jesus, by faith, as Savior (Ephesians 2:8-9).
        And if that is not followed by change and works Matthew 7:21 applies
        You have a good day.

        http://www.stm-church.com/belief.pdf

        1. Yes….the church would be in the position it is today if marriage was still considered a sacrament. Sadly….but absolutely yes. It was not the lack of a sacrament that caused what we have today in the church.

          I believe that the early church and correct view as to what Jesus meant by the expression “the will of My Father.” When Jesus spoke of doing the will of the Father to obtain kingdom entrance, He had ONE act of obedience in mind….. BELIEVING THE GOSPEL. It is God’s will that none should perish but that all should come to a change of mind about the gospel (2 Pet. 3:9). When asked the question, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:28-29).

        2. Kind sit….what would you say if you appeared before God and He said, “Why should I let you into My kingdom?” Matthew 7:22 is the wrong answer. The right answer is, “Lord, I am an unworthy sinner who has placed his complete trust upon what Jesus did for me upon the cross, and He promised that whoever believes in Him has eternal life” (Luke 18:13-14; John 3:16; Rom. 4:5; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).

      2. Duane,

        Is it your contention that Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches faith “alone,” for I can see no such thing. In fact the only place I see faith alone mentioned is in James 2…not a very helpful passage to your wider point.

        I will, however, grant that the doctrine of purgatory gives me pause. It seems not quite right to me, but perhaps that’s because I expect it should be wrong. I would also offer that it would perhaps not be quite so great an offense were we Protestants still reading 2 Maccabbees:39-46.

        Many blessings,
        Adam

        1. I’ve been asked before, Just how can you believe in salvation by faith alone when the only occurrence of ‘faith alone’ in the Bible (James 2:24) says that salvation is not by faith alone?”
          So….I will share my response with you and ask for additional feedback from you if that is okay? I do not deem myself as unteachable and in fact this blog has lead me to some deeper truths by the comments of some and the posts of John. I agree that it is entirely true that the one verse in the Bible that contains the exact phrase “faith alone” seems to argue against salvation by faith alone. James 2:24 reads, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (ESV). However, rejecting the doctrine of salvation by faith alone based on this verse has two major problems for me. First, the context of James 2:24 is not arguing against the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Second, the Bible does not need to contain the precise phrase “faith alone” in order to clearly teach salvation by faith alone.

          I think that James 2:14-26, as a whole, and especially verse 24, causes a lot of confusion. The passage definitely seems to cause serious problems for the “salvation by faith alone” concept. Again…this is where my personal studies have lead me….first, we need to clear up a misconception, namely, that James means the same thing by “justified” in James 2:24 that Paul means in Romans 3:28. Paul is using the word justified to mean “declared righteous by God.” Paul is speaking of God’s legal declaration of us as righteous as Christ’s righteousness is applied to our account. James is using the word justified to mean “being demonstrated and proven.”

          I often study from the King James…but also often cross reference with other version. I have a 2011 NIV which provides an excellent rendering of James 2:24: “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone”. Similarly, the NLT translation of James 2:24 reads, “So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone”. The entire James 2:14-26 passage is about proving the genuineness of your faith by what you do. A genuine salvation experience by faith in Jesus Christ WILL inevitably result in good works (Ephesians 2:10). The works are the demonstration and proof of faith (James 2:18). As you pointed out correctly….a faith without works is useless (James 2:20) and dead (James 2:17); in other words, it is not true faith at all. Here I think is where we part ways on our understanding of these Scriptures. For myself……salvation is by faith alone, but that faith will never be alone.

          Now I know that James 2:24 is the only verse which contains the precise phrase “faith alone,” …..but there are many other verses that do, in fact, teach salvation by faith alone. Please consider this…..any verse that ascribes salvation to faith/belief, with no other requirement mentioned, is a declaration that salvation is by faith alone. John 3:16 declares that salvation is given to “whoever believes in Him.” Acts 16:31 proclaims, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” See also Romans 3:28; 4:5; 5:1; Galatians 2:16; 3:24; Ephesians 1:13; and Philippians 3:9. Many other scriptures could be referenced in addition to these.

          If you were to read and meditate on the Scriptures I’ve given you may understand how it is that I truly believe that James 2:24 does not argue against salvation by faith alone. Rather, it argues against a salvation that IS alone, a salvation devoid of good works and obedience to God’s Word. James’s point is that we demonstrate our faith by what we do (James 2:18). Regardless of the absence of the precise phrase “faith alone,” the New Testament definitely teaches that salvation is the product of God’s grace in response to our faith. “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? . . . On that of faith” (Romans 3:27). There is no other requirement. Do you truly find my understanding as being missing the mark? I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts.

          Peace

    1. I completely understand and I too am uncomfortable with it which is why I am not Roman Catholic. I may be wrong. It is one area of study I have not put much time into.

      41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1

      Followed by the Song of Mary

      1. I believe that the Bible is absolutely clear that we are to worship God alone. The only instances of anyone other than God receiving worship in the Bible are false gods, which are Satan and his demons. All followers of the Lord God refuse worship. Peter and the apostles refused to be worshipped (Acts 10:25-26; 14:13-14). The holy angels refuse to be worshipped (Revelation 19:10; 22:9). The response is always the same, “Worship God!”

        Roman Catholics attempt to “bypass” these clear Scriptural principles by claiming they do not “worship” Mary or saints, but rather that they only “venerate” Mary and the saints. Using a different word does not change the essence of what is being done. A definition of “venerate” is “to regard with respect or reverence.” Nowhere in the Bible are we told to revere anyone but God alone. There is nothing wrong with respecting those faithful Christians who have gone before us. There is nothing wrong with honoring Mary as the earthly mother of Jesus. The Bible describes Mary as “highly favored” by God (Luke 1:28). At the same time, there is no instruction in the Bible to revere those whom have gone to Heaven. We are to follow their example, yes, but worship, revere, or venerate, no!

        When forced to admit that they do, in fact, worship Mary, Catholics will claim that they worship God through her, by praising the wonderful creation that God has made. Mary, in their minds, is the most beautiful and wonderful creation of God, and by praising her, they are praising her Creator. For Catholics, this is analogous to directing praise to an artist by praising his sculpture or painting. The problem with this is that God explicitly commands against worshipping Him through created things. We are not to bow down and worship anything in the form of heaven above or earth below (Exodus 20:4-5). Romans 1:25 could not be more clear, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…. who is forever praised. Amen.” Yes, God has created wonderful and amazing things. Yes, Mary was a godly woman who is worthy of our respect. No, we absolutely are not to worship God “vicariously” by praising things (or people) He has created. Doing so is blatant idolatry.

        The major way Catholics “venerate” Mary and the saints is by praying to them. Prayer to anyone other than God alone is anti-Biblical … praying to saints and Mary. Whether Mary and/or the saints are prayed to, or whether they are petitioned for their prayers….neither practice is Biblical. Prayer is an act of worship. When we pray to God, we are admitting that we need His help. Directing our prayers to anyone other than God is robbing God of the glory that is His alone.

        1. For some reason….reading your question actually saddens my heart. I’m really not sure why. I guess I wonder what is prayer if it is not an act of worship. For me….true worship is a pure, holy, spiritual worship, the offering of the soul and the homage of the heart rather than merely that of the lips. For myself…. true worship in prayer will always produce a change in the heart of the worshipper, causing a greater desire to love and obey the God we pray to….in worship.

          We are instructed to “pray without ceasing”. It took me awhile to get that one. I believe it is impossible to do so unless it is alway an act of true biblical worship of the one true and living God which we know is to be a lifestyle, not a moment in time (1 Corinthians 10:31). Just as they will be in eternity, our lives now are to be lives of total worship of God. When we eat, sleep, work, serve, and live from sunup to sundown, all that we do is to be in a spirit of worship of God. We are not to offer temporary, experience-oriented worship or prayer on Sunday, and then lead a secular life the rest of the week. True worship is offered to God from the depths of our inner being in praise and prayer, in song, in giving, and in living, but always based upon His revealed truth. Explain to me if you might….just how is one to pray without ceasing if it is not the same lifestyle of worship without ceasing. I honestly do not know of any possible way of separating prayer and worship. If I have missed something in the teachings of our Bible….please point this out to me. Again….I will never deem myself as unteachable.

          Peace

        2. It’s a great question, Duane. Prayer has always been for me a conversation. When the conversation is directed specifically toward God, it is done with a sense of worship and true awe. When I was Orthodox, however, my prayers to the saints were more like conversations I might have with family or friends. I would perhaps put it this way. If one can imagine a large banquet hall…for Protestants it often seems to me that we believe Jesus sits alone in the middle of the hall. For Catholics and Protestants it is though Jesus and all of His followers are in the hall with Him…a true “great cloud of witnesses,” so to speak. In this sense all prayer is directed toward Jesus, but it involves the whole community.

          Many blessings,
          Adam

        3. I live in Germany….so I was not able to respond to your last reply when you wrote it. I am on my way to the base now so I will need to wait until later to respond…but I would like to respond back. I so very much appreciate your conversing with me.

          Sleep well….

  5. Thanks for raising these questions. It’s pretty clear to me that Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy constitute the church Jesus bequeathed to us. When they bury the hatchet, each one of us every day will have to come up with good reasons to remain separate. Protestantism will continue to disintegrate because its foundation based upon modern rather than biblical presuppositions. As protestantism crumbles, it will become easier and easier to take the plunge.

    1. JW,

      The hatchet burying might be a bit more messy than you think. When I was Eastern Orthodox a friend once told me he would sooner die than kiss the ring of the pope. Catholics seem to love the Orthodox but most Orthodox priests, and most of the laity, have little to no stomach for Catholicism.

      Many blessings,
      Adam

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