Recently on The Patrick Madrid Show, a listener called in and asked:
I’m a Catholic front to back, and I have friends who are Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, etc. But at the end of the day, aren’t we saved through Jesus Christ alone? And not through a Church or a denomination? Instead of bickering with these people, I believe that love trumps all, and our goal is to help each other get to heaven.
I would put it this way. Jesus did not come to pass out Bibles, He did not come to establish a generic kind of Christianity, which would be a loose confederation of like-minded people who more or less, kinda sorta, belief generally the same things, but not really. That’s not what He did. If you read carefully the New Testament you’ll see that Jesus had a specific body of teachings. … He also gave a specific grant of authority to the apostles to do that teaching. Jesus wants us to have life to the fullest, which includes the full complement of all the truths He gave to us in the form of these teachings.
I think it’s great that you have friendship with these people, but bear in mind that they can’t both be right. Your belief as a Catholic that Jesus is Lord, and not just Lord but true God and true man – your Jehovah’s Witness friends deny that. You can’t both be right.
It’s possible that you’re right and they’re wrong, it’s possible that they’re right and you’re wrong, but you can’t both be right at the same time on these central topics. So on the one hand I applaud you, I sincerely do, that you are irenic and approachable and friendly. We should all be that way. Please don’t stop being that way. But if it’s simply a matter of, ‘Hey let’s get along’ but we don’t pay attention to the truth as Jesus Himself said that we should live by it, then I think we’re really missing the boat.
Jesus was really specific, the Church that He established was really specific. So my advice would be to take those wonderful qualities that you have, and to apply to that also a passion for taking these relationships that you have with these people who admire you and feel free to approach you because you are so friendly, and use that opportunity to share with them the truth about things that they may, in fact, deny.
The last point you mentioned – aren’t we all saved by Jesus? Yes. Those who are saved are saved by Jesus. It says it Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. This is a gift of God, it is not of works, lest anyone should boast.” So it is God’s grace from beginning to end, and it does come from Jesus Christ.
But notice how that grace comes to us. It comes to us through the Church. It is in and through the Church that Jesus established that, for example, we get things like the Bible. Now, since you and I have never seen God face-to-face you didn’t see Jesus and I didn’t see Jesus. You didn’t see the apostles and I didn’t see the apostles. You don’t have that knowledge infused directly into your mind, you received that through the Church. Because it is through the Catholic Church that you not only receive the truths of the faith that is handed down in apostolic tradition, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when the apostles were writing and preaching and teaching these things; but also the very Bible itself, the New Testament that you and I turn to as the touchstone for our Catholic faith, that comes to us through the Church that He established. That’s why He established it.
The Patrick Madrid Show airs weekdays from 9:00 – noon Eastern/6:00 – 9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio.