9 Reasons Protestants and Catholics Need to Come Together
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9 Reasons Protestants and Catholics Need to Come Together

The disunity breaks my heart... because I think it breaks God's.

9 Reasons Protestants and Catholics Need to Come Together

Growing up Protestant, I remember the first time I had a deep conversation about God with a Catholic. It was a wonderful conversation.

That’s when I realized this truth: we both loved God, valued His word, and desired to follow Christ.

Before that, my only real exposure was knowing my grandma was Catholic. To me, this meant she prayed the rosary, attended mass, and went to confession. But as I matured, I saw her faith was much more than that. She now reads her Bible daily, cares for the people around her deeply, attends Catholic and Protestant services regularly, and lives out her understanding of the will of God consistently. She has been in the Catholic church her whole life, but at age 89 was bold enough to begin attending Protestant church as well because she “likes the message and gets a lot from it.” Now 92 years old, this not robbed her of her Catholic faith. She is a great example to the rest of us of what it means to care more about God than our own pride.

The following reasons are not meant to deny the hurt or falsehood many people have experienced from either the Protestant or Catholic Church. There is brokenness in both churches, and in all people.

Furthermore, I don’t pretend to have a Catholic background. I’ve always been Protestant. I have many friends who are Catholics, asked questions, and tried to learn outside of my realm of experience. But that’s not the same. Therefore, I apologize in advance for any way I may misrepresent Catholics.

That aside, this article is meant to give us a reason not to settle with the current disunity. It is meant to increase our desire for change. So here goes…

1. God desires it

Have you ever thought about how it must break God’s heart to see His children broken apart? Psalm 133:1 displays God’s heart in the matter: “How good and perfect it is when brothers live in unity!” As we look to accomplish the other desires God’s placed on our hearts, we can’t neglect His desire for unity. Furthermore, our hearts should actually be sad that many Catholics and Protestants are following Jesus in isolation. There are wounds to be healed, reconciliation to be enacted, and support to be established. But sometimes, we don’t care. Sometimes I don’t want to care. We just keep doing our own thing. Our disunity doesn’t grieve our hearts enough. God grieves our disunity, but he rejoices when we unite. He loves to see His children together in mind, spirit, and heart. This is the joy we can give to our Father! And we can hope to the day when all are in perfect unity. Let’s bring more heaven to earth!

2. Many of the stigmas, tensions, and fears are outdated or too small

The Catholic and Protestant Church “go way back” to say the least. Many people have been hurt on both sides. But Martin Luther never meant to create a split in the church when he made the 95 Theses, he intended to start a reformation. This reality seems to be ignored now. And many of the desired aspects for reformation are much different today. For example, the Theses majorly addressed the indulgences expected from the poor; Luther saw the poor being taken advantage of. Today, Mary L. Guatier, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate shares, “Catholic Charities USA, has more than 2,500 local agencies that serve 10 million people annually” (Jacobson, 2013). Just as the distortion of power among the Pope and priests in history is very different. Look at Pope Francis. He dismisses his privileges and cares deeply for the poor. Furthermore, in the 20th century, I’ve learned Catholics were often not taught to read the Bible themselves, but rather hear from the priests. This is readily changing as I now know many Catholics read the Bible regularly and are completely devoted to their faith for themselves. The same has happened in Protestant Church where many members do not seek in the Word of God themselves despite the Bible stating, “Meditate on my word day and night” (Joshua 1:8).

Furthermore, some differences are just too small a reason to keep us separate. Unity is a greater good that a fight over which type of prayer to practice. If we let go of fear and bitterness, we could learn from each other in both types of prayer. In the words of a friend of mine, “As long as we share the fundamental belief in Jesus as the one true Lord and Savior, there is a good reason to come alongside each other in the midst of other differences.”

3. Peace produces righteousness

James 3:18 states, “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” When I read this recently, I thought, “What?” I always thought the reason we didn’t have peace and unity was because we were trying to preserve righteousness and truth. This verse is saying righteousness is made by peace! Of course… because peace is part of the truth we’re trying to preserve!

4. It’s God’s design for the Church

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

It’s how God wants the church to operate. When we become unified, we can also reach maturity, so we can then reflect the fullness of Christ. The truth is, Catholics and Protestant have a lot to teach each other, a lot to better “equip his people for works of service” to do His mission. God calls us to care for the poor, there are many Catholics who have excelled in this area of living out God’s love. God calls us to “make disciples of all nations.” There are Protestants who are examples to us in that. Of course, many Catholics and Protestants are awesome examples of doing both of these commands as well. But overall, there are valuable strengths in each Church, that if shared, could help us all grow.

5. The Church is a witness to the world

“I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23).

We are called to be a city on a hill. Our own pride, selfishness, and apathy can sometimes make it very difficult to represent Christ in this “light-filled” fashion. But by His grace and power, we can. And we must not give up. Because how Christians love each other shows what Jesus was about. We must do it well.

6. Catholicism nor Protestantism is the problem

It is easy to blame Catholics or Protestants. But if we look at the set of beliefs each claim, and more importantly, the God each claim, it is fully possible to have unity. Of course, there are many people in both the Catholic and Protestant church that claim the name and cultural aspect of the religion, but ultimately may not truly love or trust God. This is not necessarily for us to decide or judge, but it can mean a lot of misrepresentation of people devoted to God. But it ultimately comes to this. What we know is, many Catholics and many Protestants share a common belief and love for Jesus, and these people need to come together. Those that may not have this fully yet can still learn from both groups coming together.

7. God’s mission and His kingdom

God gave humans a purpose, and Jesus gave us a purpose on Earth. Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations, to care for the poor, to love God, to love others, and many other things. How do we expect to do this when there is a division between us? It’s like a family doing a family project, but without talking to each other. We need to work together if we are going accomplish (by His power) what He desires us to.

8. Ephesians 4:31

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Between these group are such things that are directly commanded against bitterness, slander… Every time we say anything negative out of bitterness, anger, or ignorance about a Catholic or Protestant, we are directly contradicting God’s command.

9. Better together

Finally, we are better together. It’s a simple as that. And one other quote I’ll throw out there, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” (African Proverb). It is not at all easy. Unity is a strenuous task, but God meant for us to be together. We need each other. We are better together.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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