Plymouth, MI. Are all churches basically the same? Does it matter which church you belong to? On the one hand, it can seem like maybe it doesn’t matter. Salvation comes from living faith in Jesus Christ, and many churches seem to inculcate and sustain such faith. This fact should not be denied or downplayed.
But is it as simple as all that? The answer, as it sometimes happens, is ‘yes, and no.’
The Church of Jesus Christ was not established by Our Blessed Lord only to inculcate and sustain faith, but also to restore to grace those who have fallen, and to train in righteousness, so that the faithful may continually increase in conformity to the will of God, and attain perfection as much as possible in this life – in a word, to become saints.
But don’t many churches strive to do this as well? Yes, this is true, and this should not be downplayed either – but the problem still remains. The fact is, Our Lord provided the Church with the various gifts necessary to carry out its mission. And in varying degrees and ways, all the churches that exist because of some previous split with the Catholic Church, are without a portion of these gifts, some even to the extent of gravely harming the proclamation of the Gospel itself. Christ gave the Church not only the Gospel, the Bible, and preachers/pastors, but he also gave the Church traditions of prayer, penance, public worship, and piety; a “rule of faith”; a hierarchy with teaching and governing authority; the communion of Saints in heaven and earth; and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, in which Christ the Sacrificial Lamb of the New Covenant makes us partake in his own flesh and blood, for as he says, “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55). The Bible, furthermore, bears witness to all these things. Though God is never powerless to save, it is not a small thing to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church.
For these reasons at least, it is not an indifferent matter which Church one belongs to. The Church is one, the truth is one, and the means of salvation and holiness are meant for all believers in Christ.
These facts are not forgotten by our teams of evangelists. On one outing in Plymouth, Michigan, for example, a couple of women who belonged to a Baptist church accepted rosaries. They were very kind and polite. “All churches are the same,” they said, because “they all believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior.” The evangelists explained to them that, rather, all the churches have parts of the truth, but the Catholic Church, founded by Christ, was entrusted with and preserves all the means of salvation and holiness, most especially the Holy Eucharist. The ladies had not heard this said before, and accepted some literature to read more about it.
Praised be Jesus Christ! The reunion of all Christians in the Church founded by Jesus Christ is a necessary goal to strive for. Whatever the weaknesses and sins of her members, all should all enter the Catholic Church, the one Arc of Salvation. Although those who through no fault of their own do not know the will of are not held guilty, those of us who do know the will of God will be held accountable for what we do with it. Let us all lean on Christ’s mercy, and dedicate ourselves to the works of evangelization and Christian unity! Please join us!