Encounter with an Evangelical
About twenty minutes into it, a woman approached us who asked us if we were "russ and debbie" from the old evangelical church we used to attend. We responded "yes" and she introduced herself and we did remember her and her family attending services there twenty or more years ago. She had moved to another church ( a common migratory pattern among evangelicals) and asked where we were fellowshipping. We told them Saint Joseph the Worker Parish. She asked if we were going there to "minister" to the people there. We said no, we go there because we believe the Catholic Church is true and have come top realize we were essentially given a false bill of goods about Catholicism.
This led to a good-natured discussion and thankfully I was able to explain the Eucharist, the Early Church worship format (the mass) and dispel misconceptions about praying to saints, etc. She asked if we believed in Jesus' death on the cross as our only way to heaven to which we positively affirmed. We chatted for about twenty more minutes as I explained what "born again" really meant up until the reformation (water baptism) and explained the concept of the sacraments. Finally, she said let me ask you a question: " If you died and went to heaven and Jesus asked why should you get in, what would you say?" (This was a common question I used to ask others when I was a young teenage street evangelist in Morristown NJ , circa 1974.)
Behind the question is the incorrect assumption that Catholics "work their way" into heaven. What I was able to tell her was that only His death on the cross would allow me to enter his kingdom and that he took the place on the cross for me (Yes, even Catholic theology recognizes that penal substitution atonement is part of His redemptive act) But I explained that we need to cooperate with his grace and continue to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." Saint Paul didn't believe in "greasy grace" and neither do Catholics. If most evangelicals are honest with themselves, they will recognize that to enter heaven one must DO more than SAY "Lord Lord. "
Even Christ who founded the Catholic Church commented that the key difference between the sheep and the goats is "what you did and didn't do." He didn't mention the "sinner's prayer," oddly enough.
So hopefully, we gave her something to think about, but even more positively we were able to labor together to attempt to stand for the unborn, despite our theological differences.