I had a nice surprise yesterday morning when Kellye called me to see if I wanted to meet for lunch. We decided on Pei Wei (was there really any other option?) and she picked me up. It was good to get away from work and to spend some time with her one on one. Usually we are with the spousal units, all of the kids or other friends so it was an unexpected pleasure to hang out together for a little while. Kate was along for the ride and I had fun just looking at her cherubic little face sitting across the table from me. Of course, looking at someone else's child is always easier than dealing with your own....I think Kellye would debate the point of "one on one" time since she was the one holding (and sporadically struggling with) the Crazy Lady.
The afternoon absolutely dragged by and I spent much of my time reading a book called "Catholicism: East of Eden" by Richard Bennett. This is a book recommended to me by a friend who was raised Catholic but later came to know Jesus in a personal way and began attending a protestant church. It was written by a man who was born into a devout Roman Catholic home in Ireland, went to Jesuit school as a child and then became a priest after attending the Angelicum University of Rome. After fourteen years of contrasting the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church to Biblical truth, he was convicted by the Gospel message of God's grace alone and after 22 years in the priesthood he formally left the church. The book gives clear scriptural (and historical) references that are often diametrically opposed to what the Catholic church teaches it's members. The overwhelming theme is that the Catholic church values tradition and ritual over the clear teaching in scripture. This book was not written by someone who has no idea what it's like to be devoutly Catholic and to believe heart and soul what the church teaches. It was written by a man who has a deep passion for Catholics and only wants them to see the truth of scripture for themselves and to not blindly follow the teachings of the church simply because that's the way it's always been done.
It's a really fascinating (and eye-opening) read that I have a hard time putting down. I am completely ignorant of the inner workings of the Catholic church because I was raised Baptist. I often hear things said by my Catholic friends with regard to their religion that I do not understand and can't really comment on because I have no point of reference. Trevor's entire family is Catholic...I think they were all a bit scandalized that we were married in a Baptist church and not as a Catholic sacrament. This book is helping me to understand where they are coming from as far as their beliefs are concerned.
What I believe is Sola Gratia (grace alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) Solus Christus (Christ alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory)--pillars of the Protestant Reformation. The grace of Jesus Christ is what saves me from my sins and sure death. My faith in Him and belief that His death on the cross and resurrection paid my debt forever is what makes me a Christian. I cannot lose my salvation if I have truly put my faith in Him and works (good or bad) cannot change that. We are not saved by works, but by grace. I believe that scripture is the final answer to all matters. If the Bible says that it is true, then it is. If the Bible seems to contradict a teaching of a particular religion, then the religious teaching is erroneous--not the scripture. It is the Word of God, and as such, cannot be false. I think that Christians should be associated with a church that teaches expositionally from the bible and that if there are practices within that body of believers that do not mesh with what the scripture says, then they should be challenged. There are traditions in the Baptist church that I do not hold to because they have absolutely no biblical grounds, primarily the idea that the drinking of alcohol is a sin and therefore forbidden. (I'm not even going to go into the whole dancing thing...) I came across a blog by Wade Burleson who is a member of the International Mission Board and represents the Southern Baptist Convention. I agree wholeheartedly with his view on alcohol consumption and I've included a link to an entry in his blog that I found very interesting and biblically accurate: http://tinyurl.com/2azwa4.
My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will open scripture to me in such a way that I will be able to present the truth to anyone who seeks it, in a way that they will be able to understand and accept. I also pray that the sin in my own life will be revealed to me by reading the Word of God and that I will be convicted of it and seek forgiveness and renewing of the spirit. My desire is to be used as an instrument for the glory of God and that I will be open and receptive to his direction for me.