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From the Baptist Press:




Churches help Catholics learn Baptist doctrine
Posted on Aug 20, 2013 | by Jane Rogers



BEAUMONT, Texas (BP) -- As Hispanic populations across the United States, many of which are traditionally Catholic, continue to increase, so do opportunities for Southern Baptist churches to address the spiritual questions of current and former Catholics.

Hispanics made up 38.1 percent of the population of Texas in 2011, the U.S. Census reports. This reflects a nearly 10 percent increase since 2006, when Hispanics accounted for 35.7 percent of all Texans, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts' office.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has 193 cooperating churches listing Spanish as their primary or secondary language. Many of their members are former Catholics. Churches in southeast Texas such as Beaumont's Calvary Baptist also attract people from French Catholic traditions, much like their neighbors in Louisiana a few miles east.

How, then, can a Baptist church, with sensitivity and wisdom, integrate former Catholics who have converted to evangelical faith?

In Beaumont, Texas, Calvary Baptist Church offers a Catholic Connection class twice annually. About 200 people have taken the four-week class since it began five years ago.

"We use the class to help people from a Catholic background understand the differences between the Catholic faith and the Protestant religion and our church's beliefs" said Cliff Ozmun, Calvary's minister of education.

"It is not a formal pathway for new members," Ozmun said, "but almost every term we offer it, people do join the church and are baptized."

The Catholic Connection class is not intentionally promoted in the wider Beaumont area. "It is aimed at the Calvary community," Ozmun emphasized. When enough from Calvary express interest, the class is offered.

"The class is not an evangelism tool for us. It is comparative theology," said Ozmun, who noted that the last time the Catholic Connection class was offered, four individuals from a local group of Catholic apologists attended for the purpose of, in their words, providing "the Catholic response."

"By the fourth week, they commended us," Ozmun said. "It was not because we aligned with Catholic doctrine but because we taught the contrast in such a respectful way. They felt we were accurately presenting Catholicism."

One person from the Catholic group even later approached Ozmun in a restaurant to say how much he had enjoyed the class.

Bill Morgan, Calvary's minister to median adults, wrote the Catholic Connection class curriculum. Jim Robichau, a lay leader and former Catholic, teaches the course.

"We focus on a handful of things," said Ozmun, including the authority of the Bible, the completeness of the canon, concepts of baptism, the purpose of communion, the doctrines of heaven and hell and the nature and role of confession.

Since Catholics and Baptists differ at several key doctrinal points, Mike Gonzales, SBTC director of language ministries, recommends focusing on the nature of the salvation experience when discipling former Catholics.

"A new believer who comes out of a Catholic background needs to understand that salvation is a spiritual experience" and not the result of adherence to the sacraments, Gonzales said.

"Scripture makes it clear that Jesus is the only mediator to God," Gonzales added, citing 1 Timothy 2:5, John 14:6, John 10:9-10, Acts 4:12 and Hebrews 4:14-16.

Vox Wrote:And that One Mediator set up a Church, with priests, etc. Read some History, Baptists,

Gonzales recommends discipling former Catholics with either Henry T. Blackaby's "Experiencing God" or John MacArthur's "Fundamentals of the Faith" in addition to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 confessional statement which is heavily referenced with Scripture. Still, he noted, discipling former Catholics is much like discipling any new believers, Gonzales said.

"Discipling former Catholics is a process, not a program," said Bruno Molina, SBTC language evangelism associate. Molina, a former Catholic himself, helps lead Hillcrest en Español, a Spanish fellowship at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill, just south of Dallas.

Integrating those from a Catholic background into Baptist fellowships is "not a matter of going through so many lessons" or simply helping them find their spiritual gifts, Molina said. "It must entail encouraging them to stay in the Word so they understand that everything flows from the Word, not just tradition (about the Word)."

Vox Wrote:Well, I can tell from just that that they're not presenting Catholic doctrine correctly, contrary to what they said above.  We don't rely on ":just" Tradition; we have Scripture and the Magisterium, too, as the THREE PILLARS of Truth. A big ole F to Mr. Molina. And a big ole F to any Catholic who attends such a class and believes what they say because he hasn't studied his own religion. And a big ole F to any catechists/priests who failed to educate them properly. 

Potential pitfalls occur when the old faith traditions collide with the new. Tension can arise as those with a longtime Catholic identity relate to family members and friends.

"It's important to encourage former Catholics not to exclude themselves from previous relationships," said Molina, who recalled his own experience with his traditionally Catholic family after he had trusted Christ as Savior.

"When I came home from the Army and was going to explain the Gospel to my dad, I was so excited. I didn't realize at the time that when I thought they heard that God loved them and had a plan for their salvation, what they really heard was that I was rejecting their culture and the way they had raised me," Molina explained.

Vox Wrote:  And this sort of thing is exactly where Guacamole's post -- just made, likely the next post down the thread list as I write -- about LIVING the Gospel. Too many Catholics see the Faith as merely accepting a couple of premises: "God exists. Jesus is His Son. His Son died for us and set up a Church. We need to show up on Sundays and receive the Sacraments." Like I wrote in that aforementioned thread, Catholics who think like this are MISSING THE ENTIRE POINT. All of the commandments and laws boil down to two things: Love God and Love your neighbor. Lots of Catholics show up on Sundays to prove they love God -- but aren't doing enough for neighbor, some even going in the opposite direction by using the Faith as a weapon or a trophy or as a big ole A+ and a smiley face on a test paper because they got a right answer. "I'm riiiiiiiiiiight, and you're wrooooooooong." Yeah, God's impressed what that. The Prots -- some of them at least -- talk about a "personal relationship with Jesus," and I always reply about the inimacy of receiving Him in the Eucharist. I mean, how personal can you get? But to leave it at that, to receive on Sundays and then go around the rest of the week throwing around imprudent language that drives people away from God, being bitter and nasty because of our liturgy issues (which obviously exist and warrant righteous anger and concern), assuming the role of Judge over other people's souls --- to do that is akin to marrying someone and then treating them like crap all the time except on your anniversary. 

While some forms of Protestantism are rightly accused of relying too much on emotions and feeeeeeeeeeeeeelings, what those Prots say about a "personal relationship" is true. That isn't -- or shouldn't be -- a "Prot thing." We're the original Christians! We should know better! We should know enough about the lives of the Saints and how many of them fed the poor, cared for the sick, visited the imprisoned, etc., in addition to engaging in prayer and, maybe, having mystical experiences, to know that just knowing who God is isn't enough. St. James tells us that "the devils also believe and tremble." But what devils don't do is LOVE. It's LOVE that matters. And it sickens me that enough Catholics haven't GOTTEN this message so that they're suckers for these sorts of Baptist goings-on. But those uneducated Catholics are smart enough to know, "in their gut," [that they way most Catholics "do Church" (sorry, I hate that phrase) ain't cutting it. And what's missing is LOVE -- Love for Christ, Love for others inspired by Christ, works done in the Name of Christ. They're hungry for the fulfillment that comes with living that Gospel message. And the Baptists are feeding them, apparently, while in the Catholic world, it seems that one of two things happens:  a) you get the banal, sterile, felt-bannered, happy-clappy crap with watered-down or nonsense doctrine based solely on warm fuzzies, or b) you get gorgeous liturgy and sound doctrine, but wihout a main, major, STRONG emphasis on the Two Great Commandments (which are only the entire basis for all law), all while surrounded by a bunch of judgmental liturgy-nerds who, as it's put on this page of the FE website, create situations like this: "Three priests in one East Coast diocese, who enthusiastically awaited the liberation of the Traditional Mass, couldn't wait to learn it. No sooner did they, when they were inundated by complaints from one amateur rubrician after another, about this or that or the other thing. As a result, they no longer celebrate the Traditional Mass, at least not publicly."

Despite the tension, it is important for former Catholics to include Catholic family members in celebrations of faith, Molina said. For example, while asking Catholic family members to attend one's adult baptism may be awkward, it should be encouraged.

"That is a great opportunity to testify and help the family understand and experience true Christian fellowship," Molina said.

Vox Wrote:Fellowship is another issue. It's a lot harder for trads to develop communities like that because of our scattered-about situation, with some folks driving hours to get to Mass. That's why we've got to get more TLMs in more parishes, so we can make those sorts of social scenes. I'd love to see more stuff organized at/through our churches to get families together, singles hooked up with friends and potential mates, allow for Catholic kids to find other Catholic kids to play with, etc. Picnics and dances and play groups and funeral committees and Bible Studies and Senior Groups -- it'd be so great if trads could have what a combination of our old parishes and Catholic neighborhoods used to provide. Sigh! 

Jane Rogers writes for the Southern Baptist TEXAN (http://www.texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Churches that wish to contact Cliff Ozmun, minister of education at Calvary Baptist Church in Beaumont, may do so via email at cozmun@calvarybeaumont.com.
After 50 years of hollowing out the Catholic Church is it any wonder ?? If you had asked me in 1960 if Mexicans would abandon the Faith, knowing my younger brothers best friend and his family I would have said never.

tim
Yeah dialogue! This is what true ecumenism is all about. Silly us, we had it wrong for nearly 2000 years....
So sad. As a former Baptist, I can see the appeal to an improperly catechized Catholic. Fundamentalist denominations' doctrine of "once saved always saved" makes things so much more...easier. I hardly ever remember feeling guilty of my sins as a Baptist. "Jesus loves me, so there's nothing to worry about. Besides, I'm 100% going to Heaven." sad it breaks my heart. In fact that's the only thing that kept my Southern Baptist mother sane while I was in RCIA. Every conversation would end with her saying "whatever! At least you're saved. It doesn't matter if you believe it or not. You're already going to Heaven." Part of me wishes I still lived in Louisiana, just so I could go to this "lesson" and provide MY input.
(08-22-2013, 08:57 AM)Tim Wrote: [ -> ]After 50 years of hollowing out the Catholic Church is it any wonder ??

No kidding.  If your church is in many ways indistinguishable from Protestantism, why not join up and have more fun at the same time?  A loss of distinctions makes the transition very easy and logical.
So, Vox, why do you think that Catholics didn't jump over to the Baptist side like this in the past?
(08-22-2013, 04:55 PM)2Vermont Wrote: [ -> ]So, Vox, why do you think that Catholics didn't jump over to the Baptist side like this in the past?

Catholics, though they were badly catechized, were better catechized than they are today, and there was sound, beautiful, traditional liturgy in place. Now, like Miriam said, "If your church is in many ways indistinguishable from Protestantism, why not join up and have more fun at the same time?"
The Church is not sure of itself, it is weak in all sectors and this has led to the abandonment of the faith by millions. Playing this ecumenical game will continue this destruction.
(08-22-2013, 05:06 PM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: [ -> ]
(08-22-2013, 04:55 PM)2Vermont Wrote: [ -> ]So, Vox, why do you think that Catholics didn't jump over to the Baptist side like this in the past?

Catholics, though they were badly catechized, were better catechized than they are today, and there was sound, beautiful, traditional liturgy in place. Now, like Miriam said, "If your church is in many ways indistinguishable from Protestantism, why not join up and have more fun at the same time?"

I guess what I'm not following is the  idea that the focus is not on love and that is why these Catholics go to the Baptist church.  That somehow we're missing that in our Church. If Catholics didn't jump ship in the old days is it because the focus was on love?  Because based on the NO wishy washy masses,  I would think that the current mass focuses more on "love".  But then why would Catholics go to the Baptists?

I guess I'm just not following your logic here.  Something's not adding up here.
(08-22-2013, 07:21 PM)2Vermont Wrote: [ -> ]I guess what I'm not following is the  idea that the focus is not on love and that is why these Catholics go to the Baptist church.  That somehow we're missing that in our Church. If Catholics didn't jump ship in the old days is it because the focus was on love?  Because based on the NO wishy washy masses,  I would think that the current mass focuses more on "love".  But then why would Catholics go to the Baptists?

I guess I'm just not following your logic here.  Something's not adding up here.

I didn't say it was just a lack of a focus on the Gospel message at a deep level, but also the banal liturgy -- i.e., the Novus Ordo Mass and the other watered-down sacramental rites. Catholics didn't jump ship in the old days because they had good liturgy and catechesis enough to know that Christ founded A Church and that that Church is the Catholic Church.

The N.O. wishy-washy Masses don't focus on love at all. They don't express a love for God in any way better than the TLM does, and hand-holding at the Our Father isn't "love" (though most everyone likes the warm-fuzzies. We don't have to screw up our liturgy to get those AFTER the Mass, however). 

If things were done right according to my thinking, we'd have the TLM and ALL of the sacramental rites offered in the traditional way, and we'd have perfectly sound teaching of traditional Catholic doctrine (defined here: FETradition), AND we'd have a LOT more fellowship and socializing AFTER and IN BETWEEN those 100% trad Masses, along with more groups offering acts of charity -- the corporal works of mercy, etc.  Right now, there's nothing but banal liturgy, weak doctrine, and not a thing telling Catholics that Christ expects us to be, WANTS us to be Catholic. As things are now, the Prot mega-churches are a lot more entertaining, have lots more opportunities for fellowship, and are as "good as" the true Church according to what it seems many priests teach, so why not swim back across the Tiber and party?
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