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Protestant or Catholic?
by Robert Flores

People try to pigeonhole me into being either a Protestant or a Catholic. I uphold the act of Communion higher than most Protestants do; if that makes me a Catholic, so be it. But at the same time, I uphold the Word of God higher than most Catholics; if that makes me a Protestant, so be it.

The foundational beliefs of both Protestants and Catholics are found in the 3 major creeds of the early church1, the first 7 ecumenical councils2 and the 66 common books of the Bible. Both Protestants and Catholics profess Christ as their Savior. And yet, over the centuries, a bunch of elitist junk, mixed with religion, has crept in on both sides and has supplanted the foundational beliefs as the only important thing.

Protestants are too free in their relationship with Christ and Catholics are too restricted. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. Protestants take things to the extreme left and Catholics take things to the extreme right. Protestants advocate spontaneity in worship. Catholics advocate structured worship. Is God never spontaneous? Is God never structured? We are looking at two sides of the same coin! Protestants point fingers at the Catholics over things they do over and over again (religiosity). But don’t Protestants realize that they have their own rituals they perform every Sunday? If you’re looking to join a sinless faction, forget it; both Protestants and Catholics have blood on their hands. Let’s not knit-pick over who has “less” blood on their hands.

But, quite frankly, all this talk about being either a Protestant or a Catholic (or, Orthodox for that matter) makes me sick. I freely admit that my beliefs are more in line with Protestants' way of thinking, but I also uphold the fact that there is only ONE Body of Christ. Listen to what Paul says: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:4-6). Catholics and Protestants are in the same Body of Christ! So what is the fuss about? I know it’s not Theology, because, as I already noted, the foundational beliefs of both sides are the same. So what is it that divides us? Worship? Externals? God could care less about externals; He cares if you are in Christ or not. He looks at the heart.

God has true believers in every corner and pocket in the world today. He has always had a true remnant regardless of what label they wear. When we are in heaven, I think we will be very surprised as to who we see there. There will be people who you thought trusted in Christ, who won’t be there. And there will be other people who you thought for sure they never trusted in Christ, and yet they did and they are right in front of you. You think Jesus will be differentiating between the Protestants and Catholics on Judgment Day? You think Protestants and Catholics will each have their own separate playgrounds in heaven? Ridiculous.

You know what grieves my heart? Protestants and Catholics killing each other in Ireland and in other places in the world. How stupid can bickery get? That is insane! People are killing their fellow brothers in Christ over preferences in worship of the one true God! Give it up people! The Body of Christ has enough enemies to fight without fighting Itself. What does Jesus say? “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) (Read the fifth chapter of Galatians, too). Personally, I think all this fussing and fighting is just a façade for not getting to the real issue. What is the real issue? What is at the heart of Christianity? You are either saved from your sins or you are not saved. You are either going to heaven or you are not going to heaven. You are either in Christ or you are not in Christ. It’s very simple. People will argue until they are blue in the face over “labels” and “methods” and “nuances in worship” (things that God could care less about) and never bother to get to the heart of the matter.

I think Satan would love nothing more than to continue to carve up the Body of Christ as he has done these last 2,000 years. He would be quite content to keep people divided up into their own little religious cliques and have them fight among themselves. If he could have us waste our time and energy fighting each other, heck, we wouldn’t even have time to fight the real evil in the world.

Is there serious wrongs that need to be righted on both sides? Of course! Christians are sinners, just like the rest of the world. However, Christians are FORGIVEN sinners; that’s what sets them apart from the world. Neither Protestants nor Catholics are sinless. Both have serious problems they need to address in both Theology and Worship. That’s not the point of this essay. My point is: let’s quit focusing on what divides Protestants and Catholics and start looking at what unifies us: Christ. Worship of God will always be a personal thing, but there is no reason in the world why it should keep us divided. There is no reason for more blood to be shed in the name of religion. Jesus’ blood was already shed. So you know what? You worship God however you want, but come to Christ only His way.

So what is Robert Flores? Protestant or Catholic? How about just “Christian”.

“. . . the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch”.—Acts 11:26c

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls.”—Romans 14:4a

March 26, 2004

Notes:
1. Apostles’ Creed in 2nd Century, Nicene Creed in 325 and Athanasian Creed in 4th Century.

2. Nicaea in AD 325, Constantinople in AD 381, Ephesus in AD 431, Chalcedon in AD 451, 2nd Constantinople in AD 553, 3rd Constantinople in AD 680 and 2nd Nicaea in AD 787.