What do Protestants experience when they describe a “personal relationship with God”?
#1
I assume everyone’s familiar with “accepting Christ as your personal Saviour” as described by many Protestants. Many of these people seem to be doing what’s right according to a dulled conscience.

So what are they experiencing when they go to Christ in prayer? Are they receiving graces to lead them to full Communion with the Church? Is it something else they’re experiencing?
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#2
For some reason, whenever I hear the "personal relationship with Jesus," this always comes to mind. Wink

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#3
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

'Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.' - Ecclesiastes 1:2

My blog: https://slavetothesacredhe.art.blog/
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#4
(08-14-2019, 11:22 AM)FultonFan Wrote: I assume everyone’s familiar with “accepting Christ as your personal Saviour” as described by many Protestants. Many of these people seem to be doing what’s right according to a dulled conscience.

So what are they experiencing when they go to Christ in prayer? Are they receiving graces to lead them to full Communion with the Church? Is it something else they’re experiencing?

Having observed evangelical Christians for my entire life either as one or running from them I can say with zero hesitation that the answer to your question is: nothing. They're making it up, usually unconsciously (which is different than subconsciously apparently) or with full awareness. The whole "Personal Lord and Savior" business is a bonkers strawman attack on Catholicism. I think the whole concept arose from theological confusion at the beginning of the 20th century when Christians contrasted their understanding of God as being a Person with the "uncaused cause" of the spiritualists and various weirdos in the UK. Americans, as is typical, took the idea and ran with it while not having even the first clue what they were talking about and decided the whole argument was this personal relationship thing.

That gave rise to the whole "Me and Jesus" insanity which is an extension of American rugged individualism. I suppose it's what happens when political philosophy informs theology rather than the other way round.
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#5
(08-14-2019, 12:43 PM)boredoftheworld Wrote:
(08-14-2019, 11:22 AM)FultonFan Wrote: I assume everyone’s familiar with “accepting Christ as your personal Saviour” as described by many Protestants. Many of these people seem to be doing what’s right according to a dulled conscience.

So what are they experiencing when they go to Christ in prayer? Are they receiving graces to lead them to full Communion with the Church? Is it something else they’re experiencing?

Having observed evangelical Christians for my entire life either as one or running from them I can say with zero hesitation that the answer to your question is: nothing. They're making it up, usually unconsciously (which is different than subconsciously apparently) or with full awareness. The whole "Personal Lord and Savior" business is a bonkers strawman attack on Catholicism. I think the whole concept arose from theological confusion at the beginning of the 20th century when Christians contrasted their understanding of God as being a Person with the "uncaused cause" of the spiritualists and various weirdos in the UK. Americans, as is typical, took the idea and ran with it while not having even the first clue what they were talking about and decided the whole argument was this personal relationship thing.

That gave rise to the whole "Me and Jesus" insanity which is an extension of American rugged individualism. I suppose it's what happens when political philosophy informs theology rather than the other way round.

I have problems with this viewpoint.
However, I largely agree with you.

I agree with you in that I think many of these people are just preserving their own pride.
“Good works” almost sound like blasphemy to them, and their “faith” is almost like their “get out of Hell free” card, despite whatever they do.

That said: there ARE people in this group that sincerely turn to God in sorrow and repentance (however incomplete it may be, with their rejection of the Church).

What graces are they receiving? As Catholics, we know that all men get sufficient grace to be saved.
Are they receiving anything additional by their turning to God in that manner?
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#6
Warm and fuzzies.  Self-reassurance that no matter what they do, they will go to heaven as long as they say that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior. 
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See the river baptism scene from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?
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Don't get me wrong, most really want to love Jesus, really want to follow Jesus, really want to go to heaven.  But for most I ever met, it is emotional self-reassurance (and group reassurance since they, like most people, spend their time with others who think alike).  Some follow thru with actions - think Franklin Graham who does a lot of charity work, even tho that charity work is a form of evangelism.
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#7
(08-14-2019, 01:25 PM)FultonFan Wrote: That said: there ARE people in this group that sincerely turn to God in sorrow and repentance (however incomplete it may be, with their rejection of the Church).

What graces are they receiving? As Catholics, we know that all men get sufficient grace to be saved.
Are they receiving anything additional by their turning to God in that manner?

I can't say if they're receiving any additional graces with their "personal relationship," but I suppose those Evangelicals who are sincere in their love for Christ might be better disposed to accept the truth and become Catholic eventually.  Conversion stories of former Evangelicals aren't hard to come by.  However, when I think of the many Evangelicals out there, even the ones who appear to be on fire with love for Christ, I can't help but remember passages like Matthew 7:21-23 and much of Matthew 25. These verses seem to suggest that some who profess to follow Christ, even doing great things in his name, are not truly his disciples and will not be saved in the end.

Here is what Matthew 7:21-23 says:

Quote:Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

Those are some pretty powerful things those damned men did in the name of the Lord, and yet, in the end, they are cast out of the Lord's presence into hell.  While present-day "personal relationship with Jesus" Protestants do wonderful things, like study Scripture, profess a belief in the centrality of Christ, feel intense love for the Lord, help the poor, preach the Good News (or their understanding of it), it doesn't seem to rise to the level of casting out demons and performing genuine miracles.

I suppose one might wonder what a devoted Protestant, with his alleged personal relationship with Jesus, might be doing that is a work of iniquity.  My guess would be their heretical teachings, that they don't hesitate to pass along, to the detriment of many souls.  A person who hears their preaching and accepts their religion will not have access to the sacraments, which are real means of grace.  So, while Billy Graham might have converted thousands who then received a valid baptism, they never received the sacrament of penance for any post-baptismal sins unless they later became Roman Catholics.  They don't have the Eucharist, so they can't offer the tremendous grace that one would receive from Our Lord's Body and Blood.  I've also never met an Evangelical who hasn't happily accepted a lapsed Catholic into their fold.  By doing that they are encouraging and aiding a Catholic in grave sin.  And so on.
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#8
(08-14-2019, 12:43 PM)boredoftheworld Wrote:
(08-14-2019, 11:22 AM)FultonFan Wrote: I assume everyone’s familiar with “accepting Christ as your personal Saviour” as described by many Protestants. Many of these people seem to be doing what’s right according to a dulled conscience.

So what are they experiencing when they go to Christ in prayer? Are they receiving graces to lead them to full Communion with the Church? Is it something else they’re experiencing?

Having observed evangelical Christians for my entire life either as one or running from them I can say with zero hesitation that the answer to your question is: nothing. They're making it up, usually unconsciously (which is different than subconsciously apparently) or with full awareness. The whole "Personal Lord and Savior" business is a bonkers strawman attack on Catholicism. I think the whole concept arose from theological confusion at the beginning of the 20th century when Christians contrasted their understanding of God as being a Person with the "uncaused cause" of the spiritualists and various weirdos in the UK. Americans, as is typical, took the idea and ran with it while not having even the first clue what they were talking about and decided the whole argument was this personal relationship thing.

That gave rise to the whole "Me and Jesus" insanity which is an extension of American rugged individualism. I suppose it's what happens when political philosophy informs theology rather than the other way round.

What is terrifying is that the mass of these people think that what they are experiencing is "Christianity," and their Bible Church with emotive guitar music and weekday bible studies is basically what Christianity has always consisted of.

We are all capable of self deception in one way or another.
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#9
Some Protestants describe feelings that seem similar to those evoked by certain Ignatian retreats where the focus is laid on the union with Jesus Christ, or perhaps the feelings advocated by St. Simon de Montfort in his Marian devotions.  Most Protestants I have heard use the expression, 
"accepting Jesus" as one's "Personal lord and savior."  In Catholic spirituality the emotional response is closely linked with an engagement either in charitable works or a structured devotional regimen, for instance praying the rosary or attending novenas.  Even highly subjective spiritual practices such as the "charismatic" movement frequently involve accompanying 40 hours devotions, for example.   The interrelationship between the emotional and the sacramental life is not as strong in Protestantism.  Of course many, perhaps even most, Protestants who have the experience are spurred to do good works, but the connection doesn't seem as vital as it is to Catholics. Instead, the realization frequently prompts them to evangelize, which many Protestants appear to perceive as the functional equivalent as fulfilling the beatitudes, joining the corporate prayer of the Church, or partaking of the sacraments.
I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy honour dwelleth
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#10
The way I see it is: If you were baptized, you are a member of the Christian Church, the Christian Church which is: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. You might be a disobedient member of the Church (e.g. a toe making war on the brain, or a fingernail warring against the general constitution of the body), but you are nonetheless, a member.

Being a member of Christ's Spouse - even if not a very good one (and let's be honest, "not a very good one," probably describes a lot of us on the internet...myself especially) - is going to be efficacious for entering into a grace-filled Covenant with Jesus...to SOME extent.

All we can do is pray that their encounter pulls them deeper into the Divine Bridegroom's Marriage with them (for which Catholicity is necessary), so that when the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night, He finds them ready, so He can take them to His Father's House.
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