Question: In a recent sermon you mentioned “unregenerate” catholics, lutherans, and mainliners. What did you mean by this? Did you mean to imply that the people within these churches are not saved?
Answer: No, not at all. In fact, I don’t think we should ever assume that every person in any particular denomination is saved or unsaved.
According to scripture, we know that there will be both wheat and tares growing together in every local church (and by extension in every denomination) until the end of the world (Matthew 13:24-30).
Further, I acknowledge (as the Apostle Paul did) that God’s kingdom is larger than any particular denomination and therefore rejoice whenever and wherever Christ is being preached (Philippians 1:12-18).
The statement I made in my sermon was only intended to alert evangelistic believers to the difficulty they may face while attempting to share Christ with people who are committed to a particular religious tradition and who may even attend church regularly, but who have nevertheless not been truly converted.
The reason I used the three examples I did was because they seem to represent the majority of churches in our area. After all, every town is the Midwest has a catholic church, a few lutheran churches, and a variety of other protestant churches which fall under the general title “mainline” (e.g., UMC, ELCA, PCUSA, ABC, UCC, RCA, etc.).
Having personally grown up in one of these traditions (and having heard many personal testimonies from others), I know that it is possible to spend one’s entire life in these churches without ever hearing a clear presentation of the biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone, through Christ alone, and received by faith alone.
I did not mention the smaller churches (i.e., evangelical or fundamentalist) in my comment because they tend to preach more frequently the necessity of personal repentance and faith. As a result, they seem to end up having less unregenerate members in their midst.
Please forgive me for not being as clear and concise as I should have been and I sincerely hope this answer clarifies the intent, context, and meaning of my comment.
– Pastor McShaffrey