I got into a Facebook conversation with a Baptist friend of mine today. She has a page separate from her personal page on which she often posts topics for debate amongst her friends. Her topics typically come from things she reads on blogs and message boards (as well as the news), and I suspect a message board is where one of today's come from.
She posted the "overheard" comment, "All Christians are Catholic," and offered the statement up for discussion.
I almost didn't jump in on the conversation. This is the same friend who, on an old blog she used to write, posed essentially the opposite question, "Are Catholics really Christians?" and her argument was that they are not. So I was hesitant to dialogue with her, or others, again on a topic that sounded so similar. But as I started reading some of the responses, I couldn't help myself.
"Don't Catholics believe that Mary was holy and Jesus was 'just a great man'?"
"My in-laws are Catholic and when I've been to services there, it always seems like we're there to worship Mary."
"Don't Catholics believe everyone goes to limbo or something?"
Growing up, I had no idea there were so many misconceptions about Catholicism. I didn't realize there were as many differences between Catholic and protestant beliefs either. But it floors me to read and hear that people honestly believe the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus was "just a great man." I get why people are confused about the Communion of Saints, and how to a person growing up in a faith community stripped of the traditions of the church, it could seem like idolatry or even polytheism from the outside. But I'm realizing that many people don't know anything about the history of Christianity, or they've learned some strange version of it where the Catholic Church is something other than the original Christian church that was instituted by Jesus. On my friend's old blog, someone actually lumped Catholics together with Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, in terms of their "flawed doctrines." Of course, this person had absolutely no knowledge of what the Catholic Church actually teaches. If they did, I highly doubt they'd be making that comparison.
I posted some comments and my friend asked some questions and thankfully, it stayed very civil. However, once I started commenting, no one else spoke up, so I either made my point or everyone else simply decided to move on to other things in their day.
I have to admit, I have imaginary conversations in my head, where I debate the differences in Catholic and protestant doctrine with this friend. I've been so disturbed by some of the things she's said in the past about the Church and I'd love the opportunity to set her straight. Not so much with the intention of converting her; goodness knows it drives me nuts when other Christians set their sights on Catholics, determined to "save us." But I'd love to be able to educate her about the Catholic faith, because she has so many misconceptions. And I know she's more the norm amongst our protestant brothers and sisters.
Sigh. It gets me all riled up. I guess I should chalk it up to a learning opportunity for me, since conversations like this help me to explore my faith more deeply. She and I are getting together on Friday, so I'm wondering if any of this will come up in conversation. I can't quite decide if I want it to.