Often I receive private questions from friendly folks who regularly read this blog. Occasionally, there are some good questions and I post them. Here is a recent one from a Reformed Christian:
Let me ask you a simple question: Why is it that the majority "Catholic Christians" hate church, have no idea what the bible teaches, and believe being a good person gets you into heaven?I'm a bit confused by this. I know literally hundreds of Catholics. They love the Church. Many go to Holy Mass every day. They read the Bible every day. They go to Bible studies or other regular small group meetings. They go on mission trips. I graduated from a Reformed seminary (Westminster Theological Seminary, Philly) and let me say that the best Bible scholars that I've known were Catholics. Reformed guys study, but your top-notch Catholics study more.
Also, every Catholic I know would tell you that they trust in Christ for salvation and believe that it is only by the grace and divine mercy of God that they will enter into Heaven. It's true that we reject "justification by faith alone" and believe that works are the fruit of grace in our hearts, but that doesn't mean that we think "being good alone" gets you to Heaven.
We don't worship Mary. We don't think the Pope is sinless or infallible about history, weather, or sports.
We love Jesus, and teach our children to love Jesus Christ as their Savior. We drive them to Church every week for CCD. They sit and kneel next to us in the pews every week. We go to confession - some weekly, most monthly, some less than that.
This is the Catholicism that I know. If you think that Catholics "hate church" and don't read the Bible, then you've either met a few disgruntled ex-Catholics or have been taught by Protestant bigots who want to defame the Catholic Church. I would encourage you to visit your local Catholic Church for a week day Mass and meet some real Catholics.
Are there Catholics who don't take it seriously and just go to Holy Mass on Christmas and Easter? Of course! Same goes for Protestants of every stripe. Last time I checked it was the Protestants who had become liberal and started promoting things like abortion and contraception and "Jesus was just a good man". Bill Clinton is a Southern Baptist in good standing, but I don't judge all Southern Baptists through the lens of Bill Clinton. Accordingly, I hope that you wouldn't judge all of us through the lens of the disgruntled Catholics.
It is the Catholic Church that has made a perennial stand against abortion, contraception, pornography, sexual immorality, divorce, communism, and any effort to demote the Lord Jesus Christ to the status of "just a teacher". The Catholic Church may not look as pretty and crisp as some the new mega-churches (or even some PCA churches), but she is the true mega-church - the Mother Mega Church. The active, busy mother who loves and serves her family may not look like Paris Hilton - but she's the mother nonetheless. I'll take the Catholic Church, warts and all. She is the Bride of Christ and the Mother of us all (Gal 4:26).
As the Mother Mega Church she can't even be called "international" because as G.K. Chesterton once pointed out, "she is older than all the nations". There is only one word for her: Catholic.
God bless you in your journey. I hope one day, when you become Catholic, you'll email me and let me know. I'll be praying for you and with you.
your brother in Christ,