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Are Catholics Christians?

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Are Catholics Christians?
M G Therin Weise / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

Question: Are Catholics Christians?

Apparently not everyone believes that "Catholicism" is a Christian denomination. Recently I received an email from a reader upset by the Catholic resources provided on my Christian denominations page.

A Reader Asked:

I am really perplexed. I came upon your interesting site today and have been checking things out, with profit. When I noticed all of the links to Catholic lists and sites, I was perplexed.

When I went to the list of 10 books on Catholicism, I was shocked to discover that they were promoting the Catholic Church...It has been called the largest cult in the world.

...How can you promote a church that is literally filled with false teachings, false beliefs, false ways ...? Instead of leading the visitor to the truth, all of those links will only lead him or her astray.

I'm concerned and dismayed for I thought that this might be a helpful site.

My Response:

Unfortunately, my response was very disappointing to the reader. Here are some excerpts of my reply:

Thank you for writing and expressing your interest and concern over the material on the About.com Christianity site. Perhaps if I explain the purposes of the site a little further, it might help.

One of the clear aims of the site is to provide a reference source for “Christianity in general.” As I’m sure you know, “Christianity” encompasses many faith groups and doctrinal perspectives. My intention in presenting the denominations material is not to promote any church denomination. The material is offered as a reference for denominational studies - as the opening article explains:

“Today in America, there are more than 1500 different faith groups professing many diverse and conflicting beliefs. It would be an understatement to say that Christianity is a severely divided faith. You get an idea of just how many denominations there are when you view this national directory for Christian denominations.”

My goal is to eventually have hundreds of faith groups and denominations accurately represented on the site, and I intend to provide resources for each.

Yes, I agree, there are flawed doctrines in the Catholic tradition, but you will find this to be true in many Christian denominations and faith groups.

On a personal note, I was raised in the Catholic Church. At the age of seventeen I came to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior through the ministry of...yes, a Catholic Charismatic prayer meeting. Shortly after, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit while attending a Catholic seminar. As I grew in my understanding of God’s Word, I began to see some practices and teachings within the Catholic denomination that I deemed unscriptural, but I have never forgotten the many wonderful merits of the Catholic Church.

I would gently challenge you to reconsider clinging to such a close-minded concept of the Catholic Church. I believe there are many of our faithful brothers and sisters in the body of believers who participate in the Catholic Church. Perhaps you have not had the opportunity to meet one yet, but I personally know many "born again," devout Catholics.

I believe God is much bigger than our understanding, and His Church transcends denominational lines. I believe God can look into the heart of a Catholic and recognize a heart that follows Christ. Could you say that Mother Theresa is not a Christian? Can you point out any religious group that is without flaws?

I also believe there is a responsibility on the part of believers to expose false teachings. In this I pray for those that God has called as prophets. Perhaps this is your mission, and I pray for you as you follow Christ. I pray that God would convict the hearts of the leaders of every church that confesses to be a “Christ following” church of their responsibility before God to teach truth.

As the host of a site that encompasses the broad spectrum of Christianity, I must fairly represent all members of the Christian faith community. I am personally compelled to consider and present all sides of any issue and allow myself to think “outside of the box.” These challenges, these studies into opposing faith perspectives have only served to strengthen my faith and enrich my search for truth. I believe it would do us all well, the entire body of Christ, to focus on what really matters, and to seek to unite and not divide. This is how the world will know we are His disciples, by our love for one another.

As I said, my response was poorly received. The reader asked me to study the many "false doctrines" of the Catholic Church. I have, in fact, studied many of them, several of which are highlighted in my Roman Catholic beliefs and practices page.

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