Tag Archives: Lutheran

Christians Need to Love One Another

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As a lifelong Catholic who loves the Church, defends her publicly, and tries my best to follow her teachings, I have observed a phenomenon over the years.

It has become very obvious to me that some of my brothers and sisters in the Church have a serious moral superiority complex in regards to other Christian faiths. And I believe that this attitude has played a major part in continuing a divide in Jesus’ Church.

Let’s remember that one simple fact to begin with: it’s not our Church. It’s not mine, or yours. It doesn’t belong to Pope Francis, or any other human being. The Church belongs to Jesus Christ. He is it’s founder, and he is it’s genuine leader still today.

Throughout centuries past, the sometimes immoral actions of Popes and other Church leaders directly led to many of the major schisms that have occurred which have separated believers from one another. Catholics need to recognize the truth in that burden before judging any Protestant, Episcopalian, or other Christian denomination.

The most important thing for any Christian is that they believe in the fact that Jesus Christ suffered and died for their sins, and that as followers of the Lord we have a responsibility to learn about his teachings and spread his Word, both to unbelievers and to those who have never heard it in the first place.

We also have a responsibility to share our faith with one another. Jesus began our Church when he passed that responsibility directly on to Peter: “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.

Jesus didn’t say “churches”, plural. He didn’t say: “Now just basically go with what I taught you, and the rest, well, doesn’t matter.

No, Jesus also gave his Church power: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

In those words, Jesus established his Church here on earth, to continue his work here on earth, led by men beginning with Peter and guided by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, as in the Garden of Eden, that Church was entrusted to men. Frail, sinning human beings.

At various times in the history of the Church, the men leading her have turned from the Spirit, turned from their mission, and sinned, sometimes in the most sinister, vile, and inhuman ways. These sins led to the Church fracturing and splintering.

I heard it said recently that I should “read the Catechism” in order to learn what the Church teaches on some issue. The fact is, I read the Catechism daily. But it’s not the only book of faith that I read. I also read the Holy Bible, the direct Word of God.

Catholics who point solely to current Church leadership teaching, the current version of the Catechism, the reforms of Vatican II, and the sermons of their local priests are selling their faith short. Those things are all very important, and should be experienced with sincere faithful discernment.

But all Catholics should also be picking up and reading their Bibles as well, learning the direct teaching of Jesus Christ, and fashioning their lives after him. Every single Catholic, from the Pope down to any lay person reading this article, including the one writing it, is a sinner.

Stop judging, that you might not be judged,” said Jesus.

“For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”

Catholics have no business holding themselves up as in any way better than any other believer. We have no right holding on to any type of superiority complex over followers of another Christian faith.

Now this is not to say that those Protestants and other so-called Bible-based churches are without fault in this Christian schism either. And those believers also do plenty of judgmental criticism of the Catholic Church and it’s adherents.

All Christians need to follow the teaching of Jesus again: “This I command you: love one another.

There is far too much judgmentalism taking place in modern day Christianity, and nowhere near enough loving taking place.

I call on my fellow Catholics to set aside your air of superiority and embrace your fellow Christians. I call on Christians of other denominations to recognize that Jesus founded one Church, that he wants us to all be as one, and that we are to work to come together as often as possible.

There is one final fact to remember. It is clearly taught in the Book of Revelation, chapter 19, verses 11-21 that Jesus will return at the end of time, unite his Church, and win victory over evil, establishing the Church again as one as told in Revelation 21.

No Pope, no church leader, no great preacher will ever unite the Christian church on earth again under one banner, as Christ intended when he founded her. Only Jesus himself will accomplish that at the end of the current age.

It is our duty during our lifetime here on earth to do all that we can to perpetuate love and peace with, between, and among our fellow believers. It is all of our duty to spread his Word to any non-believers in a loving, thoughtful manner.

Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Adventists, whatever you call yourself, wherever you practice your faith, and especially now at Christmas when we celebrate the birth of the Savior of us all – we must love one another, as Jesus loved us. God bless you.

New life in death for a moral compass

“He has now been gathered by the Lord, in whom he trusted.”

Those are the words of Fr. George Butler, who administered the last rites of the Church on Thursday to one Richard John Neuhaus.

At age 72, the former Lutheran clergyman turned Catholic priest died after a short battle against the cancer with which he had been diagnosed in late 2008.

If you moved on after having caught a blurb of his passing on the TV news, or having seen a headline in a newspaper the past couple days, wondering why the big deal about a priest’s death from cancer, you moved on too quickly.

This was not simply the death of your Average Joe after one of life’s most common end games. This was, as Philadelphia’s great newspaper The Bulletin called it, the loss of a “moral compass.”

Fr. Neuhaus was one of the leading voices in the Church and in the country in defense of the millions of innocent children butchered each year in abortion procedures.

He was said to be an articulate defender of Catholic orthodoxy, and perhaps the leading conservative Catholic voice in the country.

Fr. Neuhaus also had a vision, the dream of many of today’s Catholics, to see the Lord’s Church whole again.

In the 1990’s, Fr. Neuhaus joined with leading Protestant voice Chuck Colson in editing the work ‘Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission’ which was an effort to highlight the common mission and shared values of the two Christian traditions, including their opposition to abortion.

It should be one of the fervent prayers of all Christians to again one day see the differences that led to the great schism in the Church set aside, and for Protestants to end their ‘protest’ and return to the Mother Church. Fr. Neuhaus shared this dream, this vision, this hope.

Fr. Neuhaus knew well the traditions of both Protestants and Catholics. He was born into a Lutheran family as one of eight children. He became ordained as a Lutheran minister and served as an activist pastor in New York in the Bedford-Stuyvesant ghettos of Brooklyn.

In the 1970’s he preached against the Vietnam war, then turned his attention towards the growing genocide created by legalized abortion. Then in 1990, Lutheran minister Richard Neuhaus had his great conversion, becoming a Catholic. A year later he was ordained as a Catholic priest.

He became a highly regarded writer, particularly on life issues, and became an unofficial advisor on these to President George W. Bush who called him ‘Fr. Richard’, helping the President to articulate religious principles. President Bush correctly summed it up by stating that Fr. Neuhaus “devoted his life to the service of the Almighty and to the betterment of our world.”

Humanity lost a great voice on Thursday, particularly that part of humanity that still lies in the wombs of women the world over and cannot yet speak for itself.

It should be all of our goal, as Fr. Neuhaus wished, to see that those voices get the same chance to actually speak one day as we ourselves have received.

By moving in the direction set by this great moral compass of a man, by maintaining and spreading his mission to defend unborn children, we assure that his life’s mission goes on. And as Christians we understand full well that this is not the end for this great believer. Father Richard Neuhaus may be lost to us here on earth for now, but he now begins a new life in the presence of God.