In part 1 of this episode, we discuss:
- The Pope’s recent statement that says, “other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.”
- The recent Barak Obama / Mitt Romney Scuttle over Sex Education
- Ann Porter
- David King Landrith
- John Crawford
- Today’s Moderator: John Dehlin
Well, I would like to have engaged with you guys on this one. I have a very different view of “one and only true church” claims. I don’t agree that most churches view themselves that way. My understanding of the beliefs of most mainline Protestants is that they believe in in a large “Church of Christ” of which their individual expressions (Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, etc.) are denominations.
You don’t have to claim to have the one and only truth in order to claim that your path has validity. Your path and heritage can have value without extravagent, unsupportable claims that devalue the claims and traditions of others. Viewing faith traditions other than your own as valid is a sign of a more mature world-view. The movement of the current Pope away from that maturity is another example of how he is choosing to lead his church in a regressive direction.
My understanding of the Protestant “Church of Christ” claim is that everyone who holds a certain set of beliefs and experiences will be saved; everyone else will be damned to hell (of course, this comes from discussion with anti-Mormons (aka. the Fluffy Bunny Nice Nice Club), so they may represent a more old-school approach to Christian doctrine). In any case, I tried to address this concern with my mention of vocal adherants, as opposed to regular quiet church goers. People who are vocally Methodist or vocally Baptist are much more likely to argue that they belong to a truer church than the other denominations. That said, I have noticed a tendency amongst mainline Protestant denominations to adopt an approach along the lines the Arabian proverb, “Me against my brother; My brother and I against my uncle; My brother, My uncle, and I against the world.”
As regards the maturity of proclaiming one’s church the one-true-church, I would also point to the example of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis that DKL mentioned. It is terribly difficult to argue that those folk were spiritually immature, yet they clearly believed that they belonged to the one-true-church. Ghandi and Mother Theresa were vocal proponents of their own religions. I don’t believe that the correspondance that you are finding here is an accurate one.
John Hamer, I agree with you that most protestant Christian churches do not believe that all of their differentiating doctrines provide an exclusive path to salvation. Even so, the entire point of the differentiating doctrines is that they are believed to be correct, while the others are believed to be incorrect. Moreover, many of these Christian churches believe that their doctrine excludes Mormon teachings and that this exclusion bears on the ability of Mormons to obtain salvation from their church. At bottom, there is doctrinal disagreement among Christians and Christian churches — all of them, even when it’s not considered essential to salvation.
Just a couple of thoughts. . .
First – The reason most of the protestant “denominations” started was because they felt there was at least one key doctrinal point that made them uniquely closer to God and made their flavor of worship a clearer path to salvation. Time has washed over many of those differences and everyone is a great deal more accepting now.
Second – there is an interesting essence to the “One True” church approach. It is absolutely true that evangelicals and Protestants in general feel there is a set of beliefs in their faith that will allow them to be “saved” in the end. They believe they are part of that “One true church” or “One true gospel” just as LDS do. I wonder if this is critical to the success and vitality in making a religion worth following. Perhaps in the same way that I served in the “greatest mission on earth,” I am married to the “best wife in the world,” and my parents are the “best parents in the world.”
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