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Judy Ramsey wrote:

Hi, guys—

Some Christian friends recently asked me:

  • Do you accept Christ as your Personal Savior?

It has been my understanding, being raised Catholic, that Jesus came for all of us.

Of course, I believe Jesus is the Savior of the world so:

  • Am I just arguing over semantics, or
  • Is there a real difference in beliefs among us?

Thank you for any guidance you can give me on this question.

Judy Ramsey

  { Since I obviously accept Christ as my Personal Savior are we arguing over semantics? }

Bob replied:

Judy,

Sadly, many Protestants try to "bait" Catholics by posing this question as a litmus test for
"True Christianity" according to their interpretation. It can, however, become a springboard for a valuable discussion about the Faith if one is well informed enough to articulate some basic truths. I suggest doing a little homework. You can become a good witness to the Catholic faith with some effort.

Now to your question.

When they ask you, just say "yes", and then you can enter into a deeper dialogue if you wish to draw some distinctions.

There are some profound differences in belief, although we do hold much in common.

One of the primary differences is looking at salvation as a onetime event versus a process.

  • Protestants tend to look at is as something historical: Christ died, rose, I accept him as Lord and Savior, I'm saved.

  • Catholics look at it as trans-historical: Christ died, is Risen, and I am within this Paschal mystery that is happening "now", trans-historically. Christ's saving act is being played out even now, in and through the members of His body. He is "saving" me as He is transforming me into his likeness.

Don't be discouraged. You are not alone. Millions of Catholics get thrown by Protestant friends and acquaintances who mean well, but call their salvation into question with these little questions.

If you have a relationship with God, and He is working in your life, you need not fear.

If you don't, perhaps you should heed their advice and get one. In the end, the life of faith is nourished through the Church, Christ's body, in His sacraments, Word and teaching authority.
If you really want to understand the deep issues that can be argued by Protestants and Catholics,
go to a Catholic bookstore and get a good book like Catholicism and Fundamentalism by
Karl Keating. It is a good place to start.

Peace,

Bob K.

Mike replied:

Hi, Judy —

Thanks for the question,

  • Do we accept Christ as our personal savior?

Yes, we do, in a similar way they mean it but also in another way.

We accept him as our personal savior because he died for each one of us personally. We also pray to Him; this is where we ask him personally to grant our petitions.

In addition, we accept Him, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. As Catholics, we are human but through the Eucharist, we partake in His divine nature, and therefore, we aid in bringing the fullness of the Gospel, the "Good News", to mankind under Our Lord's one Church,
the Catholic Church.

In many Protestants groups, "acceptance of Christ as their personal Savior" is reduced to an outward verbalization, without a commitment to Christian behaviors "e.g. actions" in life that flow from both the Written and Oral Traditions Jesus left us. (Yes, we have scandalous examples in our Church too, but we don't leave Peter due to Judas behavior by a few; we separate behavior from truth.) Many times this acceptance of Our Lord as our personal savior even excludes looking into the possibility the Christian congregation one currently belongs to, may not have been the original Christian Church Our Lord founded. I believe there are many in the world today who have this sincere relationship with Christ, but not with the Church he founded; you can't separate the two.

I second what Bob recommends. Get Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating,
but I would also recommend one or two Scott Hahn audio tape or CD series.

Catholic apologetic audio tapes and CD's have helped immunize me from sincere or insincere Protestant objections, because whether I'm listening to Scott Hahn, Tim Staples or whomever, they give me the answers to common Protestants objections about the Church ahead of time.

I especially like his three-tape series:

Calling Catholics to be Bible Christians and Vice-versa [ Single CD ]
from St. Joseph's Communications.

Hope this helps,

Mike Humphrey

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
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