J. D. Flynn explains that a person who has been baptized into the Roman Catholic Church is always a Catholic and can never leave it. Those who later reject the church’s teachings, lose their faith, join another ecclesiastical body, become atheists, or rebel against the church–such as pro-abortion politicians–are still Catholics. But they will have to face their judgment. The Church, he says, includes those who will be damned.
Does any of this way of thinking apply to other theologies? Can we say that there is no such thing as an ex-Lutheran? Lutherans distinguish between the visible church–which does include sinners, hypocrites, and others who are lost–and the invisible church of those who have faith in Christ. We are baptized into the latter. Roman Catholicism rejects that dichotomy. But presumably someone might no longer belong to a Lutheran church but still belong to the invisible church. And someone might not belong to the invisible church, but still be a Lutheran. Right? Someone help me out here. And how does the Lutheran doctrine of baptism fit into all of this?
Also, how would this apply to once-saved-always-saved Baptists and elect Presbyterians? [Read more…]