Sunday, April 21, 2013

Go Beat Up a Baptist

St. Paul tells us that we are Christ's ambassadors... not His debate champions. The universal call to evangelization is not a command to go "beat up a baptist" but more like a call to go "love a baptist". This cannot be a blind love, no, it has to be a well informed love. A love that instructs with words and deeds. A love that leads to the fullness of Christ's teachings.

In football terms: Evangelization is offensive. Apologetics is defensive. You have to have both because you will lose the game without each working together. We are really familiar with the word "Evangelization" but sometimes the word "Apologetics" slips under our radar. The standard scripture for apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”

A picture of what not to do:

Are you prepared to make a defense of your faith? The first step to defending your faith, is knowing your faith- you cannot give what you do not yourself have. Remember the scripture stated above said to "do it with gentleness.” We have to keep in mind that it’s the Holy Ghost who converts souls- we are at best broken tools who get to help. People from other religions do not get "saved" by bombarding strangers asking questions, clever argumentation, or cockyness. Handing people pamphlets through drive-thru windows is not fulfilling any call of evangelization. We have to present the faith in a clear and concise way. A way that makes people yearn for more. A way that makes people ask questions.

Honest questions like, “Why do Catholic’s do that?” I was one of those people. I was brought up Baptist and I guess you could also say “anti-catholic.” About 15 years ago I visited a Catholic Church for the first time. I went home thinking, “Dang those people act like drones.” I mean gosh they didn’t even bring their Bibles to church, and to make matters worse, it was boring! I made a long list of complaints within a week. I was for certain that the Catholic Church was off-kilter in its teachings, and I certainly wanted to prove it. I finally started talking to my friend's father, a Catholic, about my objections to the Church’s teachings. He answered a lot of my questions, but more importantly taught me a valuable lesson. “How can I judge something I do not understand?” So my new mission was to find information. Only with knowledge can people make up their own opinions. I started out very determined to prove the Catholic Church wrong. But as it turns out, all the answers I found went against my original opinions. For example, I perceived that the Catholic was unbiblical, but through study I realized that the Mass is soaked in Scripture, and Scripture is soaked with the Mass. If someone were to go to every Sunday Mass, for three years, he or she would have read the Bible almost in its entirety. It seems to me now that ignorance is the worst feature a person can acquire. If a person really looks at things, it is evident that all hatred comes from ignorance. People are more prone to hate what they do not comprehend. So I plea to you, do not make judgments, instead find information. The Great Bishop Fulton Sheen said this, "There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is of course, quite a different thing." I found myself to be among the millions of uneducated and that most of the “Churches problems” were really “My problems” through unawareness.

My real big complaint was that the Church was boring and had no “Sprit.” Many people share this opinion. I ask you to do this next Sunday while at church. I want you to look around, you’ll see people that are totally thirsty for God, but you’ll also see some just going through the motions, often looking at their watch. This is in every church and in every denomination. My father in-law has a saying, “What tickles my ear, might not tickle my neighbors.” My senior English teacher also taught me this saying, “There is not a boring speaker, but a boring listener.” Which I find to be true, unless some is giving a two hour lecture on yarn or something else without tangible interest. Do not be comfortable by your own beliefs, but yet question them, and by all means question mine. How can one truly know what he or she believes in, if it has not been questioned, or better yet, answered...

Let me share with you a basic fact that got me thinking. The Catholic church did not suffer a doctrinal split until the fifteen-hundreds. Meaning that 75% of the Christian time period, has been nothing but Catholic. Here is a theory I like to call the “Buffet Theory.” Picture the founding Catholic Church as a restaurant. Or even better, an all you can eat restaurant. Okay now picture the Catholic Doctrine as the buffet inside the restaurant. For fifteen-hundred years the people were happy with the service and quality of the Catholic buffet. But one customer in 1517, decided that he did not agree on the buffet’s contents. He liked the bread, meat, vegetable, and dessert sections, but he didn't like the soups offered on the buffet. So he decided that he was going to open a new restaurant across the street. His restaurant was going to be a “Lutheran Buffet.” This new “Lutheran Buffet” was very similar to the Catholic Buffet except for the fact that it omitted soup from the menu. It was not long before a customer at the “Lutheran Buffet” stated that he loved the meat, vegetable, dessert sections of the “Lutheran buffet” but felt that the customers could do with out the bread section. So he opened up another restaurant similar to the Lutheran Buffet but with no bread. So on and so on through out history , until modern times when there are restaurants that just offer tofu. You see the more you break away, the farther you are from the original “Buffet” or Doctrine. There are thousands of Christian denominations/sects in our modern world that are all offshoots of the Protestant “Restaurants” of the Fifteen-hundreds. So ask yourself where you would like to eat. At the most established restaurant, which happens to be more than 2,000 years old. (Yes, that is longer than McDonald’s has been around.) Or at a restaurant that has just begun to dabble in the kitchen. I think the answer is clear. If the Catholic Church were a restaurant, I think that one of McDonald’s slogans would fit it perfectly, “Billion’s and Billion’s Served.”


  1. Take note of this summary statement by the CATHOLIC author Peter Feuerherd in his book Holyland USA: A Catholic Ride Through America's Evangelical Landscape:

    "In reality, Catholicism includes those with disparate authority and opinions about almost everything under the sun. There are liberal bishops and conservative bishops. The pope sometimes differs with his own Curia. American Catholic voters are regularly viewed by experts as a crucial swing group in every national election, too diffuse to truly categorize. In fact, some scholars of religion refer to Catholicism as the Hinduism of Christianity, because it is infused with so many different schools of prayer, ritual, and perspective, much like the native and diverse religions of India now referred to under the single rubric of Hinduism."

    Perfect analogy of comparing Catholicism to a buffet. It's kind of like Golden Corral. They offer a bunch of different food, but none of it is very good.

  2. Peter Rabbit,

    The fact that you've found a nominal Catholic who is a "self-described liberal New Yorker" to support your opinion does not persuade. Much better to look to first principles as a way of determining which better fits the analogy of a buffet.

    Does the principle of private interpretation lead to division and a certain consumerism (i.e. buffet) in the Protestant world. I think it does. And, furthermore, we have the past 500 years of history that illustrate clearly the divisions as well as the variations in doctrine.

    Your critique of the Catholic religion on the other hand cannot succeed on the level of principles, but only at the level of practice. For example, it is quite clear what Catholics are to believe regarding faith and morals. While it is true that there are many dissident Catholics these days, their abundance is the result of a failure on the part of the hierarchy to properly deal with these errors. It does not affect the clarity or consistency of the doctrine itself. It is for this reason that we can rightly call certain Catholics "dissidents".

    The Protestant, of course, cannot do this. The principle of private interpretation will not abide it. Thus, each protestant may logically fashion Christianity to fit his needs.

    The perfect example is the issue of contraception. All Christians, Protestant and Catholic, had always held contraception to be evil. This became an inconvenient teaching in the modern world. So what happened in the 20th century, Protestant's changed their mind. Now only the Catholic Church correctly teaches what all Christians previously believed.

    Catholicism as a buffet, I think not. The principles and history regarding the matter are simply too convincing.