What Could Happen if Christians Worked Together?
As a practicing Catholic who is very involved with a non-denominational church, it blows my mind to hear the hate that spews out of the mouths of many Christians towards other followers of Christ. I’m not talking about hearing a comment every now and then that I don’t like. I’m referring to the pure hatred being spoken simply because someone believes in Jesus differently.
For the most part, this division is between Catholics and Protestants. Still, the same can be said among Protestant denominations. If someone worshiping the same God does it differently than we do, they have some serious issues. They obviously don’t know how to read or they would know what the Bible says.
I’m not a cradle Catholic. After going through RCIA three different times, I finally followed through and converted to the Catholic Church in 2018. Just admit it. Some of you have already lost all interest in even reading the rest of this article. Sadly, I was the same way for a few years. As a Protestant, I wasn’t interested in wasting my time reading anything a Catholic writer had to say. As a Catholic, I’ve been the same way with some amazing Protestant writers. Now, as a writer, I’m blessed to have a personal audience of both.
As Christians, regardless of the body of Christ we belong to, most of us agree the United States is currently more divided than it’s ever been. We are supposed to be the light of the world. We’re the ones who should be setting an example for others to follow. Still, we chose to separate ourselves from others who believe in the same Jesus Christ differently than we do.
Yes, many of us half-jokingly bring up what makes us better believers than other Christians. That being said, I’ve heard more Catholics and Protestants than I can count to say the other is going to hell. It amazes me how many people will go as far as to say a person works for Satan simply because of their doctrine of faith.
We do face an enemy who has been able to put evil inside congregations and parishes throughout time. Every denomination has at least one Judas. Personally, I think this is all the more reason for us to grow closer as followers of Jesus. You have to admit, as much as many of us focus on why others are wrong, we make it pretty easy for the devil in the United States.
I need to be very clear about something here. I’m not calling for Protestants to give in and convert to Catholicism. I’d never been that naive. I’m simply saying if we’d focus more on what we have in common than what separates us, we could make our communities, country, and world look much different.
Again, the goal isn’t to lead anyone to change what they believe in. We can disagree. There’s nothing wrong with that. The goal is to make a point. I was recently blessed with the position of a columnist for an up and coming political media website. I enjoy politics, but it’s never really been my strong point. This led to my focus being the Vatican’s involvement with world politics. The opportunity has led me to do some research preparing for the launch of the site.
Did you know that over 80 countries or sovereign states have an embassy within the Vatican? Also, the Vatican has an embassy in over 120 countries. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world while having the lowest population. Also, there are many countries still in debt to the Vatican bank. These stats all equal up to a very loud political voice. This is something that needs to be recognized, regardless of your party or denomination.
If more Protestants were willing to work alongside Catholics, think of what Christians could accomplish? There’s a huge difference between working with someone instead of against them and converting. I work with many people I don’t agree with on several levels. In my opinion, they’re wrong on a few things. Still, I’m intelligent enough to realize I’m able to do much more as part of a team than on my own. Before digging into a couple of topics on the issue, I wanted to share a Scripture.
Mark 9:38-39 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us.”
Notice, Jesus didn’t say, “You’re different than him because he prays differently.” Jesus wasn’t concerned with what language of Scripture he read. The answer Jesus gave was don’t stop a person from doing a mighty work in His name. If Catholics worship Jesus, the same Jesus Protestants worship, why does one need to be right and the other wrong? Why can’t we simply worship differently?
What Divides Christians
There is a significant difference between Catholic and Protestant theologies. Regardless of the doctrine, you believe in, it needs to be important. Despite if we’re speaking Catholics and Protestants or Methodists and Baptists, everyone believes their way of loving Jesus is better than the others. In my opinion, it’s really pretty sad. As someone with degrees and certificates in theology, from both Catholic and Protestant universities, I’ve told myself more than once, “I just want to love Jesus. Why does this have to be so complicated?”
I want to say there’s so much division simply because people don’t get their way. I know there’s much more to it than that, but think about it. How many people do you know who’ve belonged to more than two denominations in the previous five years? Yes, there are significant reasons for making a change. But, if you’re someone who finds a new church every other year without your home address changes, there might simply be some personal issues.
My point in bringing this division up wasn’t necessary to tell you why it happens. It was more of me asking you a question. No, many Christians don’t have this dislike for followers of another denomination. Still, too many of us do. If you’re one who does, what has happened to create this? What I really want to ask, who hurt you? Don’t look down on what a person believes simply because of one negative, personal experience.
Knowing What You Are
Most of the time, some of the people wanting to argue the most about why a denomination is wrong to have one thing in common. They couldn’t provide a sound, doctrinal argument. Their reasoning is simply because it’s how they were raised. “Catholics are wrong and are going to hell. I know this is true because my grandma told me when I was five years old.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with strong family ties being what draws you to what you believe. That being said, if you want to make any kind of an argument that someone is wrong because of their faith, you need something other than family secrets to back your theory.
As someone who has spent almost ten years studying theology at the collegiate level, nothing bothers me more than this when it comes to Christianity. As I’ve mentioned several times already, there are very significant differences between doctrine and theology. It’s not my place to tell you what’s right or wrong. As someone who represents Jesus Christ, it’s your responsibility to provide a defense for your faith.
I’d never had the nerve or ego to tell someone they are wrong because of what they believe. I know plenty of Catholics I think will spend eternity with me in the presence of God. I can make the same exact statement about several of my Protestant friends. Regardless of which side of the fence you decide to stand on, have solid reasoning for your beliefs. Not to point the finger at who you think is wrong. Simply to be better able to point others towards the cross.
Setting Differences Aside
As I mentioned earlier, our country is probably currently more divided than it’s ever been before, on several levels. I don’t like the idea of telling my five-year-old why someone else is different. She has bi-racial parents and deals with that enough already. As a Christian, I’d rather be a part of a generation that makes hers different. I want to focus on what different denominations have in common.
As Catholics, the Christian faith and religion are a huge part of our family. We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven, and earth. We believe in Jesus, His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Also, we believe He was born of the virgin Mary and suffered under Pontius Pilate. He was crucified and put into a tomb.
Three days later, He rose from the dead. Jesus ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. He will come back again to judge both the living and the dead. What Jesus Christ was able to accomplish through the cross is my only means of salvation. Only through Him can I spend eternity in the presence of God.
I’m saved by my faith and by faith alone. That being said, faith isn’t something you have. It’s something you do. If you can agree to that then we have a lot in common. Regardless of the doctrine or theology, you believe in.
Jeffrey has a degree in theology from Aidan University and is the founder of Gospel Grammar in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. His goal is to inspire others to seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.