Physical versus Spiritual

I have been having some discussions with a Roman Catholic friend of mine which got me thinking about how we view things differently.  This was informed by a post I saw elsewhere, but I can’t now remember where.

In the Roman Catholic view, the mere physical act achieves something spiritual.  In other words, doing some external activity is of value spiritually.

In the protestant (hopefully Biblical), view the external act does nothing in and of itself, it is what happens in the heart of the people that is important and achieves something.

So with infant baptism, for a Roman Catholic, the external act of baptism washes away original sin.  For the Protestant, the physical baptism doesn’t achieve anything of itself – what is important, is what happens in the heart of the parents and god parents (if any) – it is a prayer that the child will turn to Christ for themselves. A prayer that the child’s heart will be changed.

Similarly with Holy Communion.  For the Roman Catholic, the external act achieves something. That is why who does it matters, why what the priest does matters, and why it matters that the bread and wine are transubstantiated (changed into the actual substance of Christ’s body and blood).  Otherwise it won’t do it’s job.  For the Protestant, what is important is not the external physical activity, and who does what, but what happens in the heart of the person who takes communion.

This is a very different view on how things work.

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