my experience with the charismatic catholics

i just had a really amazing experience. A few days ago i preached at a charismatic catholic church in bari, italy. it was only for 10 minutes and i was not the only person behind the pulpit . . . but this experience was huge for me and i want to process it a little here in the blog. do you mind hearing me out? it would help me to have someone listen.

Dawnteamandtonyandmat

don’t i look sharp in a white shirt???? even without my hat, which, by the way, got left behind in Dublin last week.

This is the official photo of our team with Father Matteo and Father Anthony. you will see that i am just slightly taller than Marc van der Woude . . . a well established fact that he will no doubt dispute.

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Matteo proves his charasmatic credentials with a vigorous hand waving.

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I was not brought up charismatic. But as a missionary, you go and preach where you are told and i ended up in quite a few unusual pentecostal situations all over Latin America, some too quirky to describe here on my blog. I used to preach against the charasmatics, back when i was young and knew everything, but meeting them in person [and preaching in their churches] broke down my stereotypes and arguments against them.

when i was really young, i was told that all catholics were going to hell – just like americans. i have since changed my mind after meeting believers from both camps (catholics and americans) without horns and without the mark of the beast on their forehead. There was a time when, in my zeal, I left gospel tracts inside Catholic hymnals and placed them under the windshield wipers of Catholic’s cars while they were in Mass. I had some apologizing to do.

We were honest with Father Matteo about our fundamentalist backgrounds [except marc vdw] and he completely understood and received us graciously. What a lovely guy! As well as being the Priest at Comunita di Jesu, he is the President of the Catholic Fraternity International and a Mac user (15″ powerbook). We met in his office and he told the story of the Vatican’s acceptance of the charismatic movement inside the RCC, a movement that numbers around 120 million.

Matteo

i think this picture is the Pope asking for Matteo’s blessing. The Cardinals probably have this poster on the wall at the Vatican which they show off proudly.

The church service was exactly identical to any charismatic church service anywhere – which actually is not my preference, but it was familiar territory. My only regret was that i did not know as many Hillsong choruses as they did and was not able to sing along. “Majesty” by Jack Hayford I did know. Everyone knows that one.

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Dang! I am too young to have wrinkles! I am the same age as Jonny Depp and Brad Pitt. Life is not fair . . can anyone recommend a cream??? No . . . on the other hand . .. just don’t talk about it. Anyway, Andreas led the people in a prayer for European countries. I sat next to Father Carlo Colonna (Society of Jesus). Lovely guy, a Jesuit Priest, who has written many theological books.

Reinholdpreaching-1

Reinhold brought an apology for his previous prejudices and anti-catholic biases, but he was speaking for all of us. Afterwards, Matteo also apologized for “mythologies” against Protestants. We embraced each other as brothers in one family.

This is a little movie of Reinhold and Mattheo hugging each other after asking forgiveness for not acting like a Christian family. I cut the sound out because there was so much noise.



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At the end of the service they prayed for us and one lady came forward with a reading from the last part of Ezekiel – the gates of the city and the presence of God. It was a fantastic time for all of us. If you click on that image you will see how many people were weeping.

Our translator (also in a white shirt) was Epicscopal Priest Anthony Palmer of The Ark Community, an “An Ecumenical Christian Convergent Community within the Celtic Anglican Tradition”. Tony looked after us during our stay in Italy and we had dinner a few times with his family. Tony’s wife, Emily, is a goth believer so we had lots to talk about.

Bishopreinhold

Despite being warmly received by the charismatic Catholics, Reinhold is still a Protestant. And our Catholic friends are still Catholic. No one is trying to proselytize anyone else. We are all learning how to follow Jesus together.

Reinholdincar

This is our version of the Popemobile. To keep Reinhold humble, we allowed him to ride in the boot of the car. And also because there were too many of us.

this experience was a huge jump for me and i am a little scared about posting the story here. i had never even been to a charasmatic catholic church before and really have not had any contact with Catholics. Its possible that i will lose a few friends over this “eccumenical” move, including some dear fundamentalist teachers from my Bible College days who will be horrified to hear this. You might be horrified also and you are welcome to leave some harsh comments below, if that will help you process it.

Or . . . like me . . you may be happy to hear that some of us are responding to Jesus prayer that we might be one, so that the world will hear.

I want the world to hear . . . so I need to be part of the solution that sees Christ body starting living together now, in preparation for the life to come. Even if that means breaking some of my own taboos.

Walkinginitaly

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

54 Comments

  • Tony man i am, as you maybe know from the “uber-protestant” and not so ecumenically minded co.antrim in N.irleland………………i manage the local faith mission bookshop and to do what you just did would lose me my job……..if i was sure what you did was right and wanted to agree with you……………my tendency is however to encourage you and tell you i will pray for you as you adapt to this new experience and the effects it may have on you…………..
    This little corner of the earth is blighted by catholic/protestant bitterness. I was raised in a “brethren” background and was also taught that catholics were going to hell and that they would spawn the antichrist…………………now that i have got to know one of our local priests as he calls into the shop i kinda realise that this mis-conception is rather crazy……….anyway, i have blabbered enough…………may the Lord bless you Tony

  • I’ve been blessed to know some very christ-living catholics in my day, and very early on in my journey, I came to realize that most catholics are incredibly similar to most ‘protestants’. Just sitting around church, doing their time, as it were. Those who wish to know Christ will know him. A friend once told me a story of finding the only church in town with a ‘healing service’ was the catholic church that everyone railed against. Go Figure.
    Catholics? I like ’em.

  • Dear Andrew,
    I am glad you made the breakthrough. I think the basic point is that everyone who accepts Jesus, the Son of God, as Lord may receive the Holy Spirit and become a citizen of the Kingdom. And there are no denominational conditions attached.
    Living in Dublin, Ireland in the 1970’s (I am older than you, but I think I have fewer wrinkles, however you are suffering the harsh climate of the Orkney Islands!) I was introduced to the Holy Spirit by Catholic charismatics.
    I grew up in Scotland, which, as you know, is a fine Presbyterian country. In my childhood our family church was a Baptist church. The minister there who most impressed me in my childhood became a Roman Catholic after he retired. He was one of those rare Christians who can be characterised as ‘holy’. As a student in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I was baptised in the Anglican (Church of Ireland) student chaplaincy.
    Some years later, when we were living in Dublin, the “charismatic renewal” movement rolled through the country. The old Quaker meeting house in the centre of Dublin was packed out on Friday evenings with “praise and worship” meetings. From there we were invited to a series of seminars on “Life in the Spirit”. These were run by a Catholic Charismatic Community, “The Light of Christ”, and were a series of teachings on the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Bible with emphasis on God’s promises and on the “gifts of the Spirit” as manifest in Acts and onwards in Paul’s letters. The culmination of the seminars was prayer for receiving of the Spirit and the sign we were all hoping for was the gift of tongues.
    Following that experience we tagged along with the Light of Christ for several years -the only Protestants in the whole community.
    Sunday afternoons were the big community fest. We celebrated mass in a school gym hall. Usually a great party which sometimes broke into a greeting and reconciliation riot when the priest invited us to offer one another a sign of peace.
    So in my book, believing Roman Catholics definitely are Christians and a highly structured liturgical service can be great way to worship God and be church when it is filled with the Spirit.
    Greetings,
    Andrew B

  • Great stuff Andrew. Thanks for sharing this story. Many need to hear it – and coming from you it will go far for them.

  • My Father once went to a COnference of European Evangelicals… the worship was what you might expect at hat kinda gathering… anyway next to my Dad was this little white haired chao who was really giving it some in a Charismatic Stylee… You know hands up in the air, hopping from one foot to the other, comb over blowing in the wind of the Spirit… when it came to the customery ritual humiliation… ‘Turn to someone you don’t know’… it only turns out that this little bundle of energy was the Vatican Chaplain… the Popes Priest! Just goes to show that even Catholics can get sucked into this kinda nonsense 😉
    On a more serious note… why is it such a radical thought that some Catholics may actually be Christians??? If I were the judgemental type I might have similar concerns about many Pew-warmers in the Protestant and Anglican churches! At least the habitually Catholic make more effort than their Protestant and Anglican counterparts!

  • Harsh comments??? Your heart is like a piece of butter. Thank you for this meaningful, warm post. It blessed me. I’m learning similar lessons, it’s very much needed. That hug heals many!!!

  • I got to spend a lot of time with charasmatic catholics this year in Paris. I have to admit, I’m generally pretty impressed… Sometime I think that in Latin Europe, the Catholic church feels a lot more relevant and less distanced from the culture than the evangelical and protestant churches.

  • Andrew that is so awesome! I’m charismatic so of course I have to chuckle at your honest comments. My husband’s spiritual mom in college was a nun – a charismatic RC nun who is now the director of a mission hospital in Tanzania. She is an amazing woman. I’m endlessly pleasantly surprised at the diversity in God’s Kingdom and I have learned to fully embrace it and enjoy it. Praise God that you had such a wonderful experience. I have not been to an official charismatic catholic service but I would love to.

  • lol yea andrew man i know i messed up on the name!!! I have been reading your blog for a year now so should know but i typed the post up and pressed “post” , read it back and went “what the ?????? who’s tony?”
    sorry mate……………..

  • I really needed to hear an encouraging story of unity in Christ today and this definitely fits the bill. What a beautiful story. Thank you *so* much for sharing this.

  • It is awesome & beautiful to hear this, and very encouraging indeed. I am thankful for you posting this, and am honestly very hopeful that this will help open the hearts and help stop division in the church….It’s all about the Trinity…
    There’s a lot of tough walls Jesus wants to burst through, tear down and blow away. I pray God will be heard through your experience.

  • Thx Andrew for this posting. Felt less in an apology mode myself, but appreciated the dialogue, and trust it will help us focus on Christ instead of dividing traditions.
    And just for the record: I’m 2.00 meters, you are 1.99. We did the final draw in South Africa last February, and I won. You may have forgotten that, because you can’t get over it, but that’s ok. I love you anyway.

  • i grew up in Anabaptist (Mennonite) in the American South West, with two Jesus-loving, disciple-making parents who saw a Franciscan nun for spiritual direction. i didn’t know about the Catholics-can’t-be-Christians thing until i got older. my experience bears out like Will’s above: i too find a striking similarity between many Catholics and Protestants, “just sitting around church, doing their time” as well as many that know Jesus in both camps. blessings.

  • I recently returned from Indonesia where I spent some time with the Filipino community (my fiancée is Filipino). I attended Catholic mass every Sunday and went to Couples for Christ and Youth for Christ (Catholic version) bible study meetings right after the Sunday morning service. These meetings were 4 hours long and there was intense passion and fervour to hear the word of God and learn about Him. It was a direct contrast to the Catholic community that I had been brought up in here in Australia. I didn’t even know the basic meaning of Christ’s death until I went to a charismatic Pentecostal church at the age of 19. I felt so bitter toward the Catholics at that stage. But my recent visit to Indonesia changed that.

  • Andrew, your wrinkles are the “smiley” kind and only show more of your character 🙂
    Love the vision you express, not only your own, but that of all those who participated. Praise God.
    Dana

  • Wow, that’s all I can say. You are really brave. I live and do youth ministry on the boarder of mexico, and things here are very devisive. All the Protestants here think that all Catholics are going to hell and it’s very frustrating to see kids not be friends with other kids, because of their so-called differences. I’m deffinitely going to try and find a CCC and encourage some of my students to try it.

  • I just returned from the west coast of Ireland, filming for a small project with the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Ireland, Scotland and England & Wales called Day for Life.
    We have also been podcasting a couple of bishops and an archbishop, which is fun. 🙂
    It struck me how deeply Catholicism is embedded in the Irish culture. Our B&B in Ballina was next door to the cathedral, and during our three days there, we saw a hive of activity every day, at all times of day, with people of all ages.
    This made me wonder how God will renew Catholicism. I found myself reasoning that God must have a plan and desire to bless Catholics the world over, just like any group of people, and I am intrigued to discover what that is. If God loves Ireland, he must have a plan that embraces and blesses Catholic people.
    Perhaps what you have posted Andrew is a part of that. Perhaps too technology can play a role by changing the rules of the game (the great people we have worked with on Day for Life have felt inspired, even set free, by using new media). Perhaps we should pray more specifically and more often that we, somehow, can all be one.

  • Wow, what a love fest of comments. I just wanted to be the first to say…
    YOU’RE ALL GOING TO HELL!!!
    Not because I really feel that way, but b/c I think Andrew might be a disappointed if no one did. 🙂
    Great post. And the comments so far are also very encouraging.

  • As a kiwi who was brought up Brethren, then went to an Anglican church, while volunteering for YFC at a Baptist hall before attending Elim briefly then going to the Assemblies of God, its good to see you so ecumenical. While working for the Salvation Army and writing for a Presbyterian newspaper I married a Catholic and now don’t go to church much at all.
    It’s good to see these denomination barriers broken down like the Berlin wall. Keep it up.

  • great article, i am always surprised by my fellow brothers and sisters who are surprised that Catholics know the same Jesus they know. i grew up Catholic and would probably still be so if they accepted women in leadership positions. after 25 years in the protestant stream, i still find it interesting that many protestants have to have a rational answer for so many of the mysterious things of our common faith- the trinity (just believe it) the mystery of the incarnation (just believe it) the Spirit’s indwelling/outpouring (just recieve it) contemplative prayer (just do it) fasting (just do it) meditation in the Word (just do it) and on…heck, in this cheap grace filled domain even a little Catholic guilt might be good!

  • having been raised in the irish catholic family and being taught that everyone NOT catholic would burn in hell is just the opposite. Then, after leaving the catholic church and becoming non denomanatioal, one of the first heart acts I needed to do was to forgive the catholics. In particulare the nuns! now yrs. out of both groups I have hope that the real jesus may shine through all of the man made imposed bull that has driven so many out of any church and a step of understanding that andrew speaks of may be the kind of action jesus would be smiling at.

  • If you check God the Holy Spirit’s instructions to the church at Corinth re. “tongues,” prophesy, etc., through His Apostle Paul you should be able to see that there is such a thing as counterfeit “charismata.”
    So now we’re supposed to believe people who adhere to the belief system taught by the apostate Church of Rome are “in” the Body of Christ? Do you remember the Protestant Reformation? Might I remind you it was centered around the the doctrine of justification – the very heart of the Gospel itself – and the Council of Trent pronounced the anathema on the Biblical doctrine of salvation by God’s grace alone; through faith alone; in Christ alone.
    I am a former Roman Catholic and do not believe the “whore of Babylon” junk, etc., re. Romanism. Since virtually everyone in my family on both sides remains trapped in this counterfeit Christianity, which is actually another religion that Dr. John MacArthur rightly says “is a front for the kingdom of Satan,” I certainly do not hate Roman Catholics.
    However, anyone who takes the time to read my writings on the subject will see the result of hours and hours of research – from their own sources ala Dr. Walter Martin (who also said Roman Catholicism is apostate) – that absolutely nothing has changed in official Roman dogma re. justification, baptismal regenration, the papacy, etc., since Trent. If you truly are a “born again” believer in Christ then you must leave this apostate and idolatrous church 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

  • it’s like the walls falling down around your church and realizing that you were only in one little room while the rest of the kindgom partied on, eh?
    keep kicking at the walls andrew! beautiful post!

  • Andrew, I had to laugh leaving the Nyquists behind you and seeing your hat still on the peg…right alongside the one you left behind on the previous trip through Dublin. (Now two hats later I’m suspecting this could be a subtle ploy for organizing a return journey to Ireland. Andrew you are always welcome. You really don’t have to leave a trail of belongings behind you.)
    Thanks for the reflections on the trip to Bari. I’ve been blessed and my life enriched by people from a wide spectrum of churches, backgrounds and traditions. On one level I totally resonanate with your experience. On another I’m struggling again with issues of epistimology and wondering if words mean anything at all. And I’m aware that our words about God and our formulations of belief are sadly limited symbols and approximations. But I’m still trying to work out how one could say “this is true” or “this is error” in this Post-Reformation era and still have some sense of transferable meaning.

  • I sometimes refer to myself as a denominational mutt having been in United Methodist, Covenant, Disciples of Christ, Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, Non-denominational, Calvary Chapel, Nazarene, Episcopal, ELCA, LCMS churches, and now a Baptist affiliated, non-denominational Emergent church. Married to an MK from France that didn’t really know or care about denominational lines we serve where God places us worried less about our doctrinal positions or who was “right” and more about honoring each other and God while seeking to build His kingdom.
    Thanks for a great post Andrew.

  • JMW,
    Truly a wonderful humanistic sentiment, but only those who are “born again” (see-John 3:3) can seek “to build His Kingdom.” If you look closely you’ll notice that Jesus is speaking with a Jewish religious leader and He tells this man that he needed to be born of the Spirit.
    Since there are apostate churches such as the Church of Rome that do not preach the actual Gospel and therefore those of us who are Christians cannot “build the Kingdom” with them because they left the faith a long time ago. There is no such thing as a “post-Reformation” because it was about the heart of the Gospel itself and Rome has not changed their dogma since Trent. I suggest you read 1 Corinthians 11:18-19 carefully.

  • ken, nice to have your voice here. you are very welcome to speak out.
    the catholics i was with last week felt very strongly that Vatican 11 was their reformation and Luthers influence on Vatican 11’s documentation on justification comes through. they also are trying to bring this reform and others into the RCC.
    maybe you could speak to that
    also, many of the readers here were brought up in protestant, mainline and reformed churches and have also left those structures because of the apostacy and now walk with Jesus outside those structures.
    i dont think anyone should assume they are immune from apostacy because of the branding on their church.

  • Wow. Thanks for that Andrew. I was very moved reading it. I would come from a similar background. I was in France a while back, in a catholic church and for years we had heard how un-christian (evangelical) France was and I just thought – maybe God is at work in the catholic church. Over the next year or so we met a number of catholic charismatics who shared about the charismatic movement in the French church. It was mind blowing. One of the founders of a particular stream was a Lutheran pastor who got ‘filled with Holy Spirit’ during the 60’s and felt the Lord tell him to become a catholic. He did and started this whole stream which niow numbers many thousands.

  • Hello Andrew,
    Thank you, I think you know that when I disagree it is not in a personal ad hominem. You inform us that the people you were with “felt very strongly that Vatican 11 was their reformation and Luthers influence on Vatican 11’s documentation on justification comes through.” I have no reason to doubt this is how they personally feel, however, as one who has read Vatican II and other official writings from the Roman Catholic Church subsequently, the absolute fact is the Church of Rome herself hasn’t changed.
    Rome clearly teaches baptismal regeneration as I point out in my 2 part series “A Different Gospel Cannot Be The Same Gospel.” Here is the link to part one: http://www.apprising.org/archives/2006/06/a_different_gos.html
    I encourage people to investigate this issue themselves, if nor from me, at least from someone who knows the Gospel and understands this issue properly. As far as working for reform inside the Church of Rome, um…you do know that has been tried before 🙂 It just can’t work due to their dogma of the “infallibility” of their teaching magisterium. If they were to admit that they were wrong on dogma which affects faith and morals, then they would have to admit that Popes were fallible after-all.
    And finally Andrew, you said: “many of the readers here were brought up in protestant, mainline and reformed churches and have also left those structures because of the apostacy and now walk with Jesus outside those structures.” I’m sure they do, I’m about to break with the SBC myself, but this is to make the logical mistake of the false analogy.
    I am talking about the Roman Catholic Church (apples) which has always claimed to be “the” true Church that has “the” universal Bishop over the Body of Christ. And you have introduced “protestant, mainline and reformed churches” (oranges), and all of these denominations began as a “protest” against the above false claims by the Church of Rome. If one accepts that the Protestant Reformation was brought about by God, then by definition this means that the Roman Catholic Church is apostate and has left the Christian faith.
    Undoubtedly the mainline Protestant denominations were killed by the liberalism which has now petrified Rome, and sadly this liberalism (in my view through new evangelicalism, of which the “Emergent Church” is a part) is now poisoning evangelical Protestant denominations. Although I do not claim to know for sure, all of this may well be the beginning of the final falling away mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
    To use the Emergent buzzword, if you look carefully at the “story” of God’s dealing with man you will see that He has always worked through a remnant as the rest fall into apostasy. The point being, the Lord is not calling us to put away our “doctrinal differences,” but as in 1 Corinthians 11:19 – “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval,” the Great Shepherd is actually calling to His true children to “come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
    It’s not pleasant, but it is the absolute Truth. Christ’s meassage cost Him crucifixion, it caused His Apostles martrydom, and this is what He tells us when God the Holy Spirit says – “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Andrew, to stand aginst the Church of Rome, and to honestly call it what it is, “a front for Satan’s kingdom,” as Dr. John MacArthur has (and no I do not agree with everything he says), is what our Lord’s true spokesmen are doing and we will be persecuted for it. *offering my hand* How about it; want to come with me?

  • thanks ken
    i know you speak for a lot of people when you say these things and i sense a respectful spirit in how you present your case.
    i see the protestant reformation as a wonderful work of God for which we all benefit [i can now interpret my own bible – dang – i HAVE my own Bible] but it was also the work of man and i dont believe they went far enough [priesthood of all believers is still a long way off]
    to say that the reformers got rid of everything bad and kept everything good, as reformed folk have told me on this blog, is rose tinted and not realistic.
    lets come back to italy, for a moment, as the context for this conversation.
    to be italian, for millions of people, is to be roman catholic. there will be many who agree with much of your criticism against the roman church, but to suggest joining the italian protestant camp is problematic and may not be necesssary to follow Jesus.
    must an italian choose between catholic and protestant to obey God?
    and are we adding to the gospel by demanding such a cultural suicide?
    the charasmatic catholics i was with have already admitted being wrong on some doctrine – just as i have been wrong on doctrine
    and neither they nor i saw any need to compromise theologically in order to meet each other in missional obedience to the command of Christ
    Ken, when the Scriptures speak of not “neglecting the assembling of ourselves together”, it is possible that the assembling is not actually the small splinter groups that huddle in theological conformity every sunday morning in thousands of locations
    but
    i wonder
    if we are to assemble together with the body of Christ in our city or area, a body that is representive of those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life and who will be together forever with God
    then our assembly is a true refelction of christ’s body and a prophetic foretaste of the Wedding supper of the Lamb where many who were protestants and catholics will be eating together anyway
    if this is true, a lot of tiny groups need to repent for allowing the fear of man to prevent them from displaying our oneness in Christ and the full extent of Christs reconcilation.
    We really cant afford to rebel against Jesus prayer in John 17.
    i encourage my readers to read your articles, and those of Richard Bennetts
    and also to read Vatican 2
    and to read the works of charasmatic catholics
    and to compare it with the Scriptures and see for themselves.

  • Joe Turner,
    Point of order, please note I quoted Dr. John MacArthur as saying “the RCC is a front for Satan’s Kingdom.” Yes, as a former Roman Catholic I agree with him, but he’s a bit more respected in Christian circles than I which is fine by me! Keep in mind that he is on record as saying that at least 5,000 of the 10,000 members of his church are also former Roman Catholics.
    Thank you Andrew and I also appreciate our conversing as you I have. You ask: “must an italian choose between catholic and protestant to obey God? and are we adding to the gospel by demanding such a cultural suicide?” Might I remind you of what it meant for someone like Saul of Tarsus to turn his back on Judaism and surrender his life to the risen Jesus Christ. So the answer to the first question is clearly, yes. The second needs the qualifier that to answer this question, yes, we must acknowledge that we do not “add” this to the Gospel, this is a large part of the Gospel, we must obey God no matter the physical cost.
    As far as the reat of your comments, I appreciate what you said about checking things and making informed decisions personally. This I also teach people to do: “Don’t follow me, follow me only as I follow the Lord Jesus and whatHe says in the Bible itself, in context and rightly interpreted. May the Lord be with you and if He is willing perhaps you and I may talk further. To speak from the heart; I think a dialogue between the two of us in another forum would be quite beneficial in this whole “conversation.” Something to pray about, eh…

  • yes – great to have your side of the argument, ken. there will be many readers here who will agree with you
    in fact, this post would not be complete without someone with your convictions to have his say . .
    you know that we think different on this. and i believe that to see the other camp as a front for satan’s throne and ignore his influence in your own camp [whatever that camp is] puts one in a position of ignorance and vulnerability to attack.
    i still think that it is difficult for an american [i am assuming you are american] to make an informed assessment regarding the way of Christ in a culture as foreign as italy.
    and i agree that to follow christ means sacrificing much of what is deemed valuable in ones culture.
    many americans, for example, having to sacrifice the American dream to follow Jesus – i know many that have had to crucify their careers, demolish the idol of home ownership or academic degrees and other strongholds that, while fine for some, are idolatrous to others and nailing them to the cross often seem to be un-american.
    i would be curious to know in what ways following Jesus has made you less american
    but – hey . . . another time.

  • MacCaurther said that…dang..well the friends that i have that are hardcore about him would probably say it.
    i am the son of a southern baptist pastor. i never heard from my parents about catholics going to hell, but i got it from others.
    now i work in a semi-methodist ministry and our catholic students ask me why im not catholic. i have never been around the charismatic catholics but the ones I know have a serious bent towards the holy spirit. i am at a place to where i think we could learn alot from The RCC. heck, i am a fan.
    this is truly awesome. really. thanks andrew

  • Hi Andrew
    David from Re:Source Emerging Church training course. We shared a beer in Sheffield earlier this year.
    Great post and totally agree with the ecumenical move. If you want to get your head round some of it then I would urge you to read about The Celtic Christians, as they knew about Unity.
    Rev Ray Simpson on Holy Island has written an awesome book on Celtic Chrisitanity called ‘A Pilgrim Way. There is a chapter on Unity and the introduction says:
    ‘We endeavour to bring together strands in unity:
    – Catholic emphasis upon sacrament, symbol, sign and contemplation.
    – Evangelical emphasis on the supernatural – spiritual gifts, angels and spiritual warfare
    – Liberal emphasis on creation, peace and community.
    As we study the history of the Celtic Church, we discover the unity we once had as one Christian people within the one Universal Church. We are constantly ashamed of our divisions and we repent of the schisms that have occurred.
    We are open to receive love, insight or practical help from Christians in any Church stream, even though we may not agree with all their practices.’
    Paul Evdokimov, a Russian Orthodox theologian, said that ‘the Church is the organism where the life of God flows inot humankind’. We look upon fellow Christians not as strangers but as pilgrims together, and we honour those in all denominations.
    For my money one of the reasons the post-modern generation is turned off Church is because of the dis-unity and the bickering which goes with it. If we cannot genuinely make steps towards unity then we have missed God’s plan somewhere along the way.
    You spoke with us about ‘Missio Dei’ and I firmly believe that any moves towards understanding and unity within the Church are part of God’s plan and need to be encouraged. So if you’ve made a step into this arena then I’m all for it!
    Take care
    David

  • yay. as a spiritual must with roots as a catholic charismatic… i feel proud. one of the reasons why i still identify myself as catholic (instead of some hybrid-hyphenated one) is to be a living contradiction to most people’s perceptions of catholics. now i want to go to italy and meet those guys. sounds amazing.

  • of course labels are irrelevant most of the time, of course God has his people in all kinds of places that surprise us and challenge our preconceptions and biasses, however, my question is, what is it that unites you to these guys and makes you so sure they are brothers? Is it a unity in the gospel of free grace? Is faith in Christ alone the truth they cling to? If it is, then hallelujah and help them make that their theme. bless ya.
    household church man, north of england

  • good question, andy
    peter had to ask the same thing regarding the believers at cornelius’s household so that he could report correctly in jerusalem

  • I’ve no problem imagining people in heaven from all “denominations” and from no denomination. A few of my favourite Christ-followers would call themselves Roman Catholic. (I would call myself a Christ-follower of no denomination.) The weekly Bible study I’m involved in is made up of women from all sorts of backgrounds, some long-time believers, some recent, and some just looking for the first time at what the Bible says and what following Jesus means. The shocked and confused reactions of the RC members of our group at the Bible’s message of justification by faith through God’s grace led me to look more closely at the teachings of the RC church. Have you ever read the catechism? Ken is spot-on in his assertion that the post-Vatican II institutional Roman Catholic church is still twisting the Gospel, making it unrecognisable from the words of Jesus and the early Church writers. I love my RC sisters in Christ, but I can’t understand how they stay with the RC church. On second thought, perhaps God’s plan is being worked out through them. One of our group regularly teaches the children’s liturgy in her church. I’ve heard her preach the Gospel to dozens of children, with hundreds of adults listening, and the priest nodding along in agreement. I sometimes wonder if the priests ever read the catechism of their church! Thank God we live in an era in which people are inclined to question matters of faith, instead of accepting unquestioningly what they’ve been spoon-fed. Maybe we’re in the process of breaking down barriers that have kept people from the Good News of Jesus Christ. Thanks for opening this debate, Andrew. Another blow to the Enemy!

  • I was a Protestant minister for over 20 years. My whole family and I recently “converted” to the Catholic Church and apart from me loosing my income source, have never been happier and more attentive to the living Christ than where we are now. I can’t presume to answer Karen’s question about why lifer RCs stay within the RC but I could talk at length about why I am no longer Protesting everthing.
    Nice post. Peace.
    ::thrive!
    Owen

  • I haven’t even bothered to read all the other comments yet, but I couldn’t wait to say how lovely this is. I have tears in my eyes. I was one of the ones my Evangelical friends tried to bring to Jesus. I kept trying to tell them I already knew him! My mother and I have each jumped ship from Protestant to Catholic in any and all imagined orders-our main heart and prayer cry is that we could be One. Oh, how many kitchen conversations over this heartache. We would both just sit and wipe our eyes.
    I have met lovely gents from N. Ireland and know they have suffered beyond reason for this divide.
    I bawled like a baby when the Stand in the Gap PromiseKeepers deal was televised years back. There was a bit of this healing over expanses there too.
    So-thank you for sharing about this wonderful experience.

  • This is an interesting post. I have posted about my upcoming experiences with a Roman Catholic intentional community while attending a Methodist Seminary and simultaneously nurturing my baptist faith in a Presbyterian Church…this should be interesting.

  • My favorite musician is John Michael Talbot. I go to hear him whenever I can. I am born again protestant.Twenty years in charismatic churches where most are messed up theologically or else abusive.I can give grace to catholics who love Jesus.

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