Now the following frustrations/questions are directed more at my friends and family who are Evangelical - though if you are Catholic or Orthodox you may feel free to contribute. (And it obviously - as so many of my readers here exemplify - does not apply to all who claim the name Protestant Evangelical.) That being said, I would love to hear your insight into the following dilemma: How is it that in an otherwise amicable conversation about Christian things, when conversation turns to some Catholic belief that is in disagreement with what some of the conversationalists believe, they immediately ask, "So what you're saying is that I'm not saved?"
Huh? Has anyone else run across this phenomenon? Have you felt this way in a conversation with a Catholic or Orthodox Christian?
It's seeming out-of-the-blueness shocks me every time. And, for me, has nothing to do with the topic at hand. It is almost as if because I believe that they are wrong about believing this or that that I also, necessarily, believe they are "in a handbasket" and on their way, so to speak. It's as if every disagreement is grounds for condemnation.
Let me give you some context so you're not saying Huh? about my question. I was in a conversation with my brother and sister-in-law about heaven over Christmas and unity came up and I was sharing my heart with them and made an assumption too large - that they, as devout Evangelicals, understood that Catholics and Evangelicals could not share in receiving holy Eucharist. (It breaks my heart that we cannot.) As soon as I said it, they looked at me as if I had grown a third eye. And immediately the question was asked: Since I can't/won't share in Holy Communion with them, or let them partake with me, I necessarily believe that they are going to That Place Reserved for the Devil and His Angels.
Now, I understand where they are coming from, after hearing them out to whatever degree they let me. But this has happened more than once, and it is frustrating to be engaged in a conversation when, at each disagreement, they think I'm inferring that they are not saved.
Listen, dear reader, if I think you are in danger of hell because of your belief or unbelief, I will tell you so.
One more, less lengthy and less frustrating issue: My niece has begun dating a Catholic boy (Woo-hoo!). My sister, whom I love dearly, continues to refer to him as a Christian Catholic. The assumption implicit in such a label irritates me, though not greatly. Should I start referring to believing Baptists as Christian Southern Baptists, or Christian Christian Reformed, or Christian Grace Brethren, or, well ... you understand my frustration.
So if one feels the need to qualify "Catholic," make Christian the noun and Catholic the adjective (a Catholic Christian). Not vice versa.
I only ask these things so that what hair I have left that is not gray will stay the youthful black that it has always been. If you have suggestions for me, as a Catholic, as to what would be good manners for me in addressing Evangelicals (other than saying nothing, which is perhaps the best advice at this point in my journey), please let me know.