Alas, those darn Catholics (or Protestants)
It is interesting to me when I hear the phrase “Christians are their own worst enemies.”
We often have battles between denominations, and even label some as “cults”. In my eyes, we need to couple the words of Matthew, “if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt 5:19a), with the words of James that “for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).
If you do couple these two verses, you find that although what others believe does not always mesh with your beliefs, a) you are as guilty of sin as they are, and b) they’ll still be in the Kingdom of Heaven. But for the Grace of God… I don’t know about you, but least in the Kingdom is far better than not being in the Kingdom at all.
That said, I heard a comment today about how “Catholics are not Christians, because they do not know they can talk to God themselves”, referring to the sacrament of Confession. They wanted to know why Catholics go to a priest for confession, when Protestants talk to God directly.
Well, simplifed answer is that it makes a person set aside time and focus on their sins. No magic involved. It is no more right than asking God forgiveness directly, it is just a means to an end. If you are disciplined enough to remember to talk to God about your sins, and ask His forgiveness, you will be forgiven. Yes, Catholics do trim it in tradition a bit… you need to go go confession to take communion… but hey, all religions practice traditions.
We could also talk about “Jesus on the cross” and “the empty cross” disagreements (one is a reminder that Jesus died for our sins, the other that he rose from the dead); “the golden trimmings” of the Catholic church” versus “the bare necessities” of the Protestants; “Sunday keepers” and “Sabbath keepers”; “tongues” and “no tongues”; “musical instruments in church” or “not in the church”; and everything in between.
No matter these, the only requirement for being a Christian is told in John 11:25:26 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and he who lives and believes in me will never die” (See also: John 6:35, John 7:38, John 12:46).