By Luke Lancaster
Many Catholics think that attempting to convert Protestant-Christians is unimportant. Protestants love the Lord, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, so why make it a priority? This mentality of ignoring heretical doctrines is radically new to Catholic history, for most of the Church’s existence has been spent fighting heresies. Yet suddenly, the need to bring all believers to Christ's Catholic Church is pointless. The problem with this modernist view on Protestants is that it ignores three things: (1) the evil of heresy, (2) the necessity of keeping the Church whole and unified, and (3) the prayer of Christ.
Heresy creates a tear in the garment of Christ. It is an act of evil to split from any of the teachings handed on faithfully from the apostles. St. Peter called those who taught heresy “false teachers,” and that “bring in destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). Did those false teachers love the Lord? Most likely. Yet, St. Peter did not say, “Well, they love the Lord, so let them believe what they want.” No. Any false teaching is called a “destructive heresy.” According to the Bible, heresy is destructive. To call it anything else would be an unbiblical mindset.
Unity within the Church is a necessity. St. Paul said, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Why is this? Because doctrine matters. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). If Jesus is the truth, then if two Christians disagree over truth/doctrine, then they don’t know Jesus. Faithfully knowing and propounding the truths of Jesus Christ is of the utmost importance if one knows Jesus – the truth.
Agreement in doctrine is a persuasive reason for non-Christians to join the Church. Jesus knew that the integrity of the Church's message would be ruined if there were divisions, so He prayed, “[may] they [apostles]…all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:21-23). If this is the prayer of the Lord, then should it not be our prayer as well?
The Lord does not want there to be a separation between Catholics and Protestants. They need to be one, as the Lord is one with His Father in Heaven. To simply sweep the differences between them under the rug and act like everything is okay is an unbiblical attitude. The Church fought against Gnostics, Arians, Pelagians, and Albigensians throughout her history. St. Dominic spent all night debating with an Albigensian until the heretic converted back to Catholicism. Where has that zeal gone amongst the faithful? There needs to be, as Christ said, “one flock, [and] one shepherd” (John 10:16). Let us all work diligently for the reunion of all Christians.