There was another large problem in this conversation. It was big, it was bad, and it was not my fault. It turns out that it is very hard to explain the reasons that you believe something without the proper grounding in history. She has a very beautiful and simple faith, but her belief system is one that is entirely rooted in an evangelical interpretation of the Bible. She has so little background in history that this interpretation seems to her to be merely a "plain sense" understanding of Scripture. She has no idea that there are other interpretations that also make sense. She has never been exposed to them in depth. Okay, maybe I'm making some assumptions here, but that was how she approached the conversation.
It's so frustrating to me. It's frustrating to me when Protestants automatically take the position that the Catholic view is wrong without having the least understanding of why it is taught. It's far more frustrating to me when Catholics just follow along because "that's the way we do things" without having the least understanding of why we do things the way that we do, or where to find it in Scripture or history. Not that I think that Catholics should have to spout tons of verses of the tops of their heads (though I would love it!), but that they should at least know where to look so they could find it. Shoot, I'd settle for Catholics having a vague understanding that there is some kind of Scriptural basis for what they believe even if they have absolutely no idea what it was!
Throughout the conversation, I had no Bible handy nor did she, so we were both floundering in I-Know-the-Bible-Says-Something-about-This-Somewhere Land. It did not help matters. I also would have loved to bring in the teaching of the early Church fathers, but wouldn't you know that I left all five of my monstrous volumes in the other coat pocket that morning.
What are your thoughts? What must we do to be saved? As a Catholic, I believe that baptism is a necessary part of salvation and actually effects the grace that it symbolizes. M's view was that baptism is important, but is merely an outward sign of an inward salvation that has already taken place.
I would like to be clear that I think that there are very compelling scriptural arguments for both sides of the argument. I don't really get frustrated when people disagree with my way of seeing things. I get frustrated when people have never taken the time to look at why they believe as they do.
I plan to try to write out some more of my thoughts on this; you know, all the things that I wish I could have said if I'd had enough time and all my resources handy. But first, you should write. I know that there are a lot of Catholics that read this, and I would love to hear how you would explain it. But I also know that not everyone is Catholic and I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts, too.
*Okay, not really, but I certainly wouldn't blame her if that's the impression that she got of Catholic teaching.