Wayne has joined in conversation in the comment thread of my post on Reformation Day. Here is my response to him.
Faith is a priori the first requirement for salvation. Without it, works, sacraments etc cannot be efficacious. With faith, the invitation of Jesus as Savior, Lord, Redeemer and Sanctifier inspires good works. With faith, Jesus can breathe life into believers through the sacraments. Who are we to say that He could not do so? If our goal is to receive His saving gift won for us through His blood shed on cross of Calvary, and not the empty worship of ritual, how can anyone object to the means that God uses to grace us? So long as we intend no insult, no blasphemy, how could God refuse to meet us wherever and whenever we turn to Him? His word alone guarantee's this divine promise.
I acknowledge the presence of Christ within any Church that claims Jesus as its Lord and Savior. How can I deny the promise of scripture that He would be wherever "two or three" are gathered in His name? Who am I to deny His limitless mercy for anyone who turns to Him, no matter where, no matter when or how? I stand before God with the same heart that beat within the prophet Job and choose not to test or limit my God. This is clearly a truth that any Christian can attest and witness to.
I acknowledge as well all of 2 Peter 1; where the first leader of Christ's apostolic Church reminds us that our faith is not to be lifeless or selfish. It is to be shared with others as the first work of all Christians. But this does not restrict me from believing that God calls me to a further commitment; to work for the betterment of my brothers and sisters. I cannot see that any person of faith would deny me the right to accept this obligation.
Pope John Paul II repeated over and over throughout his entire career as a philosopher, theologian and Pope that religious freedom is the first of all rights for everyone. The current Pontiff shares this view. This is faith lived within the confines of the Roman Catholic Church. In no way does it limit the faith in Jesus lived within other Christian Churches.
I simply suggest my friend that:
- so long as we hold true to those first truths of the earliest Councils and apostolic teaching;
- so long as we believe that which all Christians believed, at in all places and at one time (ie: the Apostles Creed);
it is there that we will find the common ground upon which true ecumenism is found. This is where authentic Christian fellowship is rooted. It is here that all must return, over and over again through the years to verify the truthfulness of our faith.
There will no doubt be different interpretations about how we live out the Apostles Creed. Each of us brings the wisdom drawn from centuries of prayerful study of what it is to live as a person of faith; to live as a brother or sister of Christ. This is the gift that we can bring to each other in this forum.
This the journey of faith that I seek to walk with Christians of any denomination. All we need do is have faith, and not limit our understanding about how it is that we can approach God, or how He can save us.
Up for walking a while down this road?
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