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So I have visited various churches of various denominations throughout my life. There was always a somewhat a "They are wrong"-mentality towards other churches/denominations on a theological level.

Aka. baptism means this for us and for these reasons, we think baptism is not what X, Y says it is.

This is still fine because it just means that there are differences and that people agree to disagree.

But when dealing with charismatic or people in "similar" denominations I face more and more what I call flat-out hostility towards the catholic church in particular but it also is directed towards traditional churches like the protestants.

I faced statements like:

  • The pope is a false prophet/teacher
  • Rome/The Vatican is the whore of Babylon (referring to Revelation 17:1-6)
  • Priests do the forgiving during the confessions
  • Catholics are not really Christians (or at least the faith of many is empty)
  • and a lot more than I care to remember

As you can see these kinds of statements are more than just differences in theology where you can say you simply disagree but still can love each other.

Now chances are that this kind of thing happens in every denomination towards any other one, but anecdotally speaking, I found the attacks from charismatics (or similar) towards the Catholic church in particular but also other traditional churches are rising and are particularly underhanded.

Of course, the Catholic Church is not without criticism and I am not in this church for my own good reasons, but I still respect them and see Catholics as Christians, Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Hence the question(s):

  • Is that only my own experience or is there more to it?
  • If this hostility is prevalent and rising, what are the reasons for it?
  • (Optional since that might blow up the scope): What strategy do you propose to remedy it on an individual level?
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    Most Protestant reformers thought the pope was the Antichrist. Even the Westminster Confession says so. Most Protestants have softened in their view of Catholicism, though many still think that Catholicism has distorted the Gospel, possibly to a fatal extent. But most Protestants have also realised that if they want to help any Catholics come to a better understanding of the Bible's teachings they need more tact than to call everything of the Catholic Church of the devil. Why charismatics wouldn't want to be so tactful I can't answer.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 25 at 23:04
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    @curiousdannii says "Why charismatics wouldn't want to be so tactful I can't answer.". Many many organizations are able to encourage their supporters by generating hatred toward some other organization or identifiable group. It happens everywhere and is not specific to religion or to left-versus-right. The most blatant example is Hitler's right-wing antisemitism, and currently, many left-wing groups are exploiting hatred of historical wrongs (and of the descendants of those they see as responsible). The short answer is "because it works". Commented May 26 at 0:30
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    @curiousdannii. Another way of looking at it is that love requires hard work, commitment, and personal change, whereas hatred is easy and requires that other people change. Commented May 26 at 0:32
  • "What strategy do you propose to remedy it on an individual level?" — You say that as if it's a problem that needs to be corrected. (I.e. do either the Catholic or the Charismatic Churches officially think it is a problem?). Commented May 26 at 0:35
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    @RayButterworth Unless Matthew 22:39 is thrown out of the window, then I think that hostilities between churches in whatever form is a problem. We Christians cannot preach love if we aren't able to love other Christians. Again you can disagree with other Christians, but my examples are going in the direction of defamation, and that is beyond a simple disagreement. So based on this, I will criticize any leadership of any denomination that thinks that kind of behavior is acceptable. Admittedly, it is another question if that problem is big enough to focus on though.
    – telion
    Commented May 26 at 12:19

1 Answer 1

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The question illustrates something true in modern churches, a large lack of understanding. A lack of understanding of the protestant doctrines and a lack of understanding Catholic doctrines. We have a lot of books but little understanding. It’s similar to a plague of frogs where we hear a lot of sounds but they serve to only drown out knowledge.

First off, let’s define charismatics (not as some separate denomination) but as a movement more generally across many denominations that believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit post regeneration. They are generally considered Protestant but even Catholic churches can be charismatic and some Catholics consider themselves even born again.

True the recent Charismatic movement probably started in California and led to the Pentecostals which also started out Arminian but then the Apostolics is their twin sister who are Calvinistic, and then from there, doctrinally we can see how is will find its way everywhere mainstream, even among some Anglican and Lutheran and Catholic churches. Maybe a more popular destination now is the non-denominational random affiliated house of worship. Not to mention the flamboyant prosperity movement or even a Kid Rock.

To try and make sense of the question about ‘hostility’ which presumes ill will, we must allow that the observer may or may not be correct and that it could also be ‘holy and righteousness indignation’. But for simplicity let’s just use the word hostility because the flesh is hostile to the spirit and the spirit to the flesh, so it can be either a negative or positive word.

The interesting part of the question that I think is a true observation, though anecdotally, is that I do think it is true among Pentecostals and Apostolics, at least, ‘the evil of the Pope’ is clearly broadcast compared to many somewhat more reserved (no-charismatic) evangelical churches. Why? Two simple reasons. These kinds of charismatic churches are not concerned with being politically correct and have more of an interest in end-times theology which often puts the Pope as the antichrist. However, I think this hostility is somewhat of a shallow hostility not based on the knowledge of the reasons why the Pope is traditionally considered an antichrist by the reserved churches, who prefer to avoid the topic for political correctness. The reserved churches (of course a generalization and not all) also are unaware of the reasons that the previous generations had so much hostility against the Catholic doctrines. Those that do, often prefer to focus on the positive and avoid appearing hostile as it appears more bigoted to believe in truth in modern philosophy. So based on a lot of misunderstanding we have this bizarre result observed by the average church wanderer.

What is the main difference between historical Catholics and Protestants? The answer is simple. Protestants believe in a doctrine called ‘justification by faith’ Catholics do not. Well, they will say they do but that so angered Luther and Calvin etc. because they do not from the standpoint of a Protestant that does. In other words it’s an anti-Christian lie that is not a minor thing, like even a person’s view of the Pope or Baptism, or penance, but a major thing that provides or removes one’s entire salvation. How can one not be hostile to a doctrine that serves to steal Christ from you?!

What is the official Catholic view? It has always been the same since at least the reformation, it is not Protestant. The Protestant view is that a sinner is justified by faith in Christ before they have any sanctification whatsoever, that means apart from any works whatsoever. They as sinners with no ability to will any good are declared fully righteous with a kind of external righteousness. This is the protestant view and even John Wesley understood that so its an all Protestant historic view even an orthodox Pentecostal should have this view.

The Catholic view is none other than a pure dismissal of that doctrine of an external righteousness. The Catholic and Greek Orthodox and many sects as well by the way, believe in only sanctification, only an internal righteousness. Their view is there is a ‘word’ called justification and that is the protestant version of the first second of sanctification. The protestants believe that upon being justified, after that, sinners are freely united to Christ and receive the Spirit and are subsequently sanctified. Therefore sanctification is a blessing and reward hinging upon our external righteousness. Sanctification is entirely a result of believing in justification. Sanctification has no basis in obtaining righteousness! That is an anti-justification doctrine. If we switch the order we have the anti-gospel, making righteousness based on works and perverting everything the scripture says in one foul satanic attack on Christ. It is the doctrine of the anti-christ and extends beyond Catholics but basically all false forms of Christianity. There are many anti-christs. They all are united through a works-righteousness.

From the history we might now be able to understand why Apocalyptic literature stemming from centuries of a correct understanding of the differences over the concept of a faith-based gospel, a grace-based gospel, versus a works-righteousness gospel, is understood as an anti-christian symbol. Not to mention that Rome is clearly symbolized in many places of Revelation, with seven hills, etc.

So to answer the questions from a framework for understanding both Protestant and Catholic dogma:

Is that only my own experience or is there more to it? Ironically it is sort of true but often based on doctrinal ignorance and a fashionable interest in end-time theology. Non charismatics have no reason of being less hostile to the gospel of works.

If this hostility is prevalent and rising, what are the reasons for it? It is much less hostile than it was even a hundred years ago among those more aware of dogmatic differences.

(Optional since that might blow up the scope): What strategy do you propose to remedy it on an individual level? Christians are to love individuals but hate sin and false dogma. We can love anyone from any faith that we might gain some but we must understand the scriptures and know Christian unity can only be based on a common faith in the doctrine of justification.

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