Ask Your Preacher
Is it possible to be a Catholic… but not too much? Are there certain "degrees" of being religious? What do you think of the phrases "I'm a Catholic in my own way" or "I'm a Catholic, but I don't exaggerate"?
You can be a deeply devoted, strict Catholic or a mild Catholic… but we recommend neither. Catholicism places the pope as the head of the church; Christianity places Christ as the head of the church (Eph 5:23). All Catholic practices exist because the papal hierarchy believes them to be right; sometimes those beliefs agree with the Bible, but many times they don’t. Catholicism tells priests to not marry, and it forbids certain foods – practices specifically condemned by Paul as false teaching (1 Tim 4:1-3). Catholics are taught to call their religious leaders ‘Father’, but the Bible says that is wrong (Matt 23:9). Catholic practices like infant baptism (and the teaching that children are born sinful), Vatican councils, cardinal vs. venial sins, etc. have no foundation in the Bible. We derive our authority from the Bible, and that is where faith starts (Rom 10:17).
You want to be a Christian – someone who gets all of their practices and beliefs from the Bible and nowhere else. Sticking to the Bible is the only way you can have confidence in your salvation. After all, salvation is from God – we don’t get to decide which way we want to be saved. If you would like help finding a congregation in your area that uses only the Bible as their guide, we would be happy to help you find one. Simply e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a parenting question. My eight-year-old daughter has a friend about a year older than her who lives down the road. She and my daughter have been friends for several years, but recently, the neighbor girl berated my daughter to the point that she came home in tears. Unfortunately, this has happened before in their friendship. Also, as the neighbor girl has gotten older, she has developed a fairly bad attitude that is becoming a challenge for my daughter. The neighbor girl has a habit of doing this when she is upset about something, but she also usually comes back with an apology. This time, however, I'm leaning towards discouraging my daughter from continuing a friendship with this girl. My dilemma is: I want to teach my daughter to be forgiving, but I also don't want to put her in a situation where she will get hurt again or steer her towards a friendship with a girl who is becoming an increasingly bad influence. I also am not sure that I want to teach my daughter to continue a potentially abusive relationship simply because of an apology (I'm thinking ahead). Should I encourage my daughter to accept her friend's apology and continue the relationship on the grounds of forgiveness, which is vitally important, or should I encourage my daughter to end the friendship despite the apology because of the unhealthy nature of the relationship?
Parenting is about nurturing your children along to adulthood (Eph 6:4). Nurturing means more than just teaching one concept; it means providing them with all of the skills and strengths they will need in life. You are doing things exactly right.
It is important to teach children about forgiveness, mercy, and kindness – numerous verses teach that concept. However, that isn’t the totality of God’s teaching on relationships! If it were, Christians would be required to put up with untold abuse and accept every unhealthy influence that comes our way. Instead, God also teaches that bad relationships can corrupt us (1 Cor 15:33).
You can simultaneously teach your daughter to forgive this other girl while also teaching the benefits of setting healthy boundaries. That is a skill set she will need for the rest of her life. Forgiveness isn’t the same as trust. After all, Jesus forgave people but didn’t necessarily trust them in all circumstances (Jhn 2:24-25). You are right to seek a balance, and your daughter is blessed to have a parent that nurtures these healthy social skills in her.
My husband is a Mason and Shriner and has been for at least twelve years. During that time, I, too, became an Eastern Star but quit only after a year because it did not feel right. However, over the years, I have attended Mason functions and Potentate balls with my husband. However, the more I read the Bible, the more I know that this is idol worship. Since my husband does not write well, he asks me from time to time to type things for the Masons or Shriners. I feel uncomfortable doing this and feel that I am participating in this idol worship. I don't want my husband to feel that I don't want to help him, but I am conflicted. Please help.
Dear Uneasy Wife,
You answered your own question when you said, “I feel that I am participating in this idol worship.” God tells us that anything we can’t do in faith is sin (Rom 14:23). You are correct; the Masons add to the Scriptures (Rev 22:18-19) and mix the occult with the biblical – it is wrong.
God tells us that we ought not to intermix our lives with idolatry (2 Cor 6:16). We should flee idolatry and not help it along (1 Cor 10:14). It is good to support your husband when you can… but this isn’t one of those times.
What does the Bible say about hell? Is the word "hell" in the Bible? I heard someone claim that the Catholics made up hell to scare people into paying to stay out.
Cash In Hand
Dear Cash In Hand,
Hell is a real place that you really don’t want to go to. The word hell is used multiple times in the Bible – Matt 5:29-30, Matt 10:28, Matt 23:33, and Lk 12:5 are just a few.
The Bible says the wicked go to a place where the fire burns, but the worm never dies (Mk 9:47-49). At the Judgment, the wicked shall go to where there is ‘everlasting punishment’ (Matt 25:46). Eternal separation from God is a very real consequence of sin and is the last thing anyone wants to face. We recently preached a series of lessons on this very topic. You can listen or download them by clicking here.
Hey, I have a question: my girlfriend thinks she can just pray, and God will do everything for her, but I know there is a verse in the Bible that says you have to work and pray God will lead you. But where is that at?
Dear Not Lazy,
God once told Israel that He had great plans for them, plans for a future and a hope (Jer 29:11), but He also said that they wouldn’t see those plans until they sought Him with all their hearts (Jer 29:13). God molds our lives when we prepare ourselves to be used by Him. Paul once told the young preacher, Timothy, that he needed to be a vessel prepared to be used by God (2 Tim 2:21). When we live faithfully by God’s Word (Rom 10:17) and prepare our lives to be useful to Him, God guarantees that He has great things in store for us.