Normally I would ignore such articles as found on Alan Franklin’s website – http://www.thefreepressonline.co.uk/news/1/2297.htm – however as this has travelled far and wide and not only my name but Reachout Trust and Revelation TV are being dragged through the mud I feel I must write this response.
First, let me say that I just cannot believe the reaction, the one word, ‘yes’, has caused. Surely, there are more vital things we should be looking into; surely the venom and harshness of some of the things said is really ‘over the top’. I don’t say that to deflect from the fact that some people are concerned but I wonder if it needed as much reaction as it has received. Indeed I do believe the reaction has taken the whole issue beyond the notoriety it deserves.
The other issue, which makes us different to many other organisations, is that Reachout Trust has always been about building bridges, not always perfectly I would admit but that is always our goal. Yes we need to show that certain people are wrong in their beliefs but at the same time we want to build a bridge to them so that they have the opportunity to hear the truth and respond to the gospel of Christ. Over the years, as we have sort to tread this middle road, we have been attacked from both sides, and especially accused of compromise. I would reject that this is the case but I understand why people are saying it, and this is a case in point.
I do, however, find it sad that from the word go Alan did not contact me and he only responded personally after I heard about the first article and wrote to him. I can’t help but feel, because of the strong reaction, there is more behind this than meets the eye. How such a furore can be created from one such short answer I don’t know; suddenly I am a Catholic loving ecumenist that has no discernment and should be disbarred and disfellowshipped from every ministry and church in the land. If that is what people want to do then that is fine but it really becomes quite ridiculous.
The leader of a Bible School that I have been teaching at for several years said to me, “Thank you very much for your faithful teaching, often we came home encouraged after it, and not only we but also those who came to hear you appreciated your teaching much and were always looking forward to hearing you.” Faithful… encouraging… what has changed? Nothing! If God used me with my beliefs, which obviously He knew before, is He not going to continue to use me? Well He certainly will not change as a result of the Q&A programme because He knew what I believed.
What I have always believed about Roman Catholics is clear from what is written on Reachout Trust’s site and in our notes written at least 10 years ago. Still available on the Internet, they begin:
“It is almost inevitable that at an open question time or at an exhibition we are asked, ‘do you think Catholicism is a cult?’ Sometimes this comes from a questioning mind and at other times from a hostile reaction because of the feeling that we are putting Roman Catholicism alongside other cults.
“The simplistic answer to this question would be, yes, but that would both be provocative and in one sense not necessarily explaining the full picture of what we believe. I hope this booklet will help all to understand what we believe and why. First we will define what we believe in one sentence and elaborate on this by looking at scripture and doctrines.
“We believe that the dogma of Rome is a cult but we also believe that there are true Christians within the Catholic Church.
“Let us first underline that we are not saying that Catholics are non-Christian. What we believe is that the dogma of Rome is a mixture of things that are from God and things that are from man. Individual Catholics can, and many probably do, have a personal relationship with God through Jesus but in the dogma of Rome there are cultic tendencies.”
I will happily email free of charge a full copy of our 30 page booklet on RCs that is still available on our website. Please also take time to read the articles you will find at – http://www.reachouttrust.wpengine.com/articleView.php?id=365
This shows clearly that I have not changed and that these article remain there is a clear indication what we believe and teach as Reachout, so why the furore now?
TRANSCRIPT OF BROADCAST
There have been differing versions in the articles that have appeared on the Free Press site and so before I discuss anything I want everyone to see what is a fair representation of what was said:
Howard: “Is it okay for a born again Christian to worship in a Catholic Church if it’s the only church local and no transport?”.
Howard: “Thank you.”
Doug: ‘I think it is this idea of feeling that we, as Protestants, we are all against Catholics; we are not. I’ve met many people that I’ve witnessed to, that they are Christians as we’ve talked and only afterwards they told me they are Catholics. We do have to be careful – does the Catholic Church sometimes do things that we would may be feel are extra biblical and that? – Yes.
“I can understand why people have question marks, but in the end if it’s the only place around, if there’s nowhere else to go, maybe you should go and get fellowship there. In the end you really have to be led by the Holy Spirit: what we say isn’t God’s Word to you, we pass our opinions.
“If you are comfortable in the Holy Spirit doing that, fine. Be aware, there might be some things that you would totally disagree with from the biblical point of view but at the same time maybe you just need that fellowship and you need that encouragement, you need that place where you need to be with other people.”
Please note that I was asked a very specific question. It was not a general, include all, question that was an answer for everyone in every situation. Could I have added phrases such as, special circumstances, not the best, be careful, etc., but I doubt if that would have been sufficient for those who have attacked me over this. Their position is NEVER; my position is I cannot say NEVER when there are specific situations like this.
Also please note I was not asked, as was first quoted, that if there were no good churches could you go to a Catholic Church. It was not talking about becoming a Catholic or leaving behind clear Biblical doctrines; such questions would have received different answers.
I personally believe that if there is actually nowhere else it would be better to join together with the local Catholics – some will possibly have a born again experience and there can be some fellowship, whereas others can receive a real witness about the Lord and His salvation. We are to be those who are salt and light but how can we be if we are not prepared to build bridges to the only people that have a church building in the area.
Please also see the context of my answer and how it puts it within the reliance on the Holy Spirit and the Lord speaking direct through His word. I am not claiming infallibility, I am sharing what I feel, however, each one of us needs to walk before the Lord. Test it out and see how the Lord leads you surely that is how we are to share. So much I have read in response tells me I am totally wrong; others seem to have a direct line to God and know exactly what He is saying and therefore I must be wrong and should repent and return to their position. Nowhere do we appear to take into consideration the person who asked the question or indeed God’s heart for people.
1. Do I agree with all the doctrines of the Catholic Church?
Certainly not, as far as Reachout Trust’s position is concerned, see our notes mentioned above. As far as Revelation TV is concerned see the many other programmes we have produced including debates on the issues
2. Does Revelation TV allow Catholics to preach the doctrines we see as being non-Biblical?
Look at our schedules and find the clear answer no! The conversation I had with Howard lasted for 5 mins – Revelation TV broadcasted 1,435 mins other TV that day alone, why is that not being taken into account and the context of this one sentence clearly shown. The answer I come to, rightly or wrongly, is that there is no desire to build bridges to these people who need salvation we must tell them they are wrong, leave where they are and come to us. Are they simply being condemned out of hand? How should we read John 3:16, 17? I do not see, “except Roman Catholics” in my Bible, do you? Christ did not come to condemn, He came to save and that is still true. Do we need to warn of the dangers of doctrine – yes and we do – but do we need to reach out in love and not treat these people as lepers – I also believe the Scriptural answer is yes.
After all is said and done I still end up with 2 questions, “Do we lose our salvation if we go into a Catholic Church?” and “What will God do with Roman Catholics who are saved?”
I guess the way we answer those questions will lead us to which side of the divide we fall on the issues raised by my response on Q&A.
I know this will not satisfy those who are determined to show that Doug Harris is now a heretic, but I have sort to be as honest as I can here. I have also been humbled by the fact that so many people feel it important what I say and this inevitably leads me to realise how careful I must be in what I say.
So the final question, in the light of what has happened since, would I still say yes to the question. As far as I am aware that is what I would do although probably seeking to cover it with far more caveats when I realise how people are going to jump on my words.