One of the most common issues when talking with devout non-Catholics about the Catholic Church is that they haven’t found Catholics who really act like Christians and love Jesus.
I know what they mean. This is a problem, but it isn’t the end of the story.
First off, let me address reality: too many Catholics are apathetic about their faith. Too many treat their faith more like their ethnicity rather than a way of life. You’re right, Catholics mess up and sin and are unfaithful. Hello, I’m one of them. But isn’t it also true that many Christians of other faiths are the same way? You go to the South and “everyone” is Christian, but even there, there are many apathetic Christians as well.
Is the lack of devout Catholics a reason why you shouldn’t join the Church that Jesus founded? No way Jose. Find me a church full of perfect people, and I’ll join. But you can’t. We are all sinners, every single one of us.
What sets one church apart from another? A couple of traits stand out: where does it receive its authority, and what do they believe?
Where do churches get their authority? The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus. 1500 years later, Martin Luther decided to start his own little church. Did God tell Him to? Was it the workings of the divine or the workings of man?
“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18
Jesus doesn’t lie. The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. So where’s the need for a new church again?
Yes, there were a lot of things wrong inside the Church, especially around the Reformation. Yes, there are always things wrong inside the Church, including me. But we have to see that the Church is above the sins of the individual members of its body. Jesus sent down the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to lead and guide the Church, to keep Her faithful to Jesus’ teachings. So is it bad that there are sinners in the Church? No! That’s the whole point! We need the Church because we are sinners. The Church, made holy by God, is here to help us to come to know Jesus and His love for us, and to call us all to become saints. If we were all perfect people, where would the need for the Church be? The Church is like a hospital for sinners, we’re all a work in progress.
What do different churches believe? Agree or agree with me: the Church has to believe what Jesus taught. Sadly, over time we have seen many different churches stop believing in Jesus, the gospel message, and even the bible. This means they are heretics and are not fully in union with the Church that Jesus founded. They usually are not very successful, despite their “progressive” beliefs. Look at the Episcopal Church in America, for example.
Not only is believing the wrong stuff an issue for Christianity, but a “watered down” faith is also problematic. This “non-denom” movement seems to be slowly changing Christianity into a few basic beliefs, and the bible. Think about it: this is actually the exact opposite of what the early Church was like. In the early days, the Apostles like Paul were constantly instructing the churches on what the faith is and what is and isn’t heretical, even with the little things, and they had no bibles but rather the authority that Jesus had given the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops to make these decisions. (In case you weren’t aware, the Bible as we know it didn’t come into being until a few hundred years after Christ.) “Non-denom” can’t be the answer.. Jesus desired us to continue ALL of His teachings, not just a few non-controversial ones. Jesus desired that we be ONE, not 30,000 separate denominations, and not even one giant blob of “watered down” Christianity.
Despite all of the challenges that have faced the Catholic Church over the years, it has lasted, and nowadays, it is perhaps more alive than ever in certain aspects, while many other Christian churches are getting hit a lot worse. I immediately think of World Youth Day, FOCUS, and Lifeteen as movements that highlight all that is beautiful about the faith that Jesus gave us. If you don’t have any devout Catholic friends, I’m praying that you’ll run into someone one day. Maybe they’ll show you that there’s more to this faith than what the apathetic Catholics have been doing for all of these years.