Apologetics

This new convert sent me a nice e-mail thanking me. I asked if I could share it on my blog. He agreed but asked to remain anonymous and I agreed. He said, “I converted because I lost all the discussions I had with a Catholic workmate – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. One problem – my Protestant relatives. How do I explain going Papist to them? I ended up sending this email (in which I site you as one of the reasons I went to the dark side, hence, this email to you.”

So, here goes the e-mail:

And now… for something completely different.

  Funny you should mention ‘bars’ in your email and ask if I had any, because I have a doozy. You might want to get yourself a cup of tea for this one.

  In my readings and such it became apparent to me in the spring, (probably just after I last wrote to you), that to study Scripture on my own was ok, but that I needed to belong to a fellowship of believers – a denomination of some kind. I can’t remember how I came to this conclusion, but it made sense and I thought it was a good idea. So off I went.

  The first thing I found was that I had 33,000 choices! I thought it was a misprint, but no – there are an estimated thirty-three thousand Christian denominations. I’m sure some of those are quasi-Christian cults like the Mormons and the JW’s, (and their many offshoots), but still, that’s a lot to choose from.

Another thing is that there would have to be a church in Edmonton, which I figured wouldn’t be too much of a problem because a city of a million people should contain most of the usual mainline denominations. (If Jim Bob’s Church of Jesus Christ in Monroe, Alabama is the true Church of Christ, then we’re all out of luck!)

  So I began reading the small print to this or that church. There were, (for the most part), many points I could agree with, but invariably there was a ‘poison pill’ in there somewhere. Maybe they didn’t have an Ellen White or Joseph Smith, but I would for sure come across a doctrine that I could not stomach. (Gay ‘marriage’ is one of them, which for me wipes out most Canadian churches, including the one I was baptized in – the Anglican.)

  My evangelical workmate filled me in on his Church, where the Holy Spirit is alive and everyone is jumping all over the place. I listened, but in the end that’s not my idea of worship. (For me, Jesus is God – not my fishing buddy.) (My opinion, of course!!) I thanked him for the invite and continued on.

  My journey was good fun – I was learning about different denominations and what they believed, but at the same time I was also coming to grips with the fact that you can justify almost anything, (morally or theologically), and still consider yourself a ‘Christian.’

  Another thing that was starting to gnaw at me was, (for the lack of a better word), truth. Christ is the Truth. But does any one of the 33,000 have a complete handle on His teachings? Are they all, (at least in some part), right? Are they all, (at least in some part), wrong? I wanted one that taught the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – but I was beginning to think that the best place for that might be back in my living room.

  And that’s another thing that bothered me. I might debate myself on the way home from work, (or brushing my teeth), but in the end I usually agree with myself. Myself and I perfect for each other. And that’s what I saw in all these denominations – parishioners staying in a particular denomination until they hear something they don’t like, and then off they go across the street to another denomination.

Then they’re happy, until they hear something they don’t agree with. Then off they go. Again and again and again. I’ve even read of new preachers coming into a church and teaching doctrines that completely contradicted the views of the previous ministers. So if you don’t agree with the teachings, sometimes you don’t have to go across the street – you can just replace the minister. None of this made sense to me.

  I was getting so exasperated that one time at coffee I said to my other workmate, (Simon the RC), “I’d even consider your church just because of its stance on moral issues.” As soon as I said it I couldn’t believe I said it, but, (what the heck), I thought it would be fun to dig up one of the many ‘poison pills’ that church had to offer. I couldn’t wait to get home.

  But instead of going to one of my websites, I wanted to find a Catholic one and use fodder from that to skewer my workmate – who I like a lot, but, well… business is business.   

  It didn’t take long to find a site called ‘catholic bridge.’ The guy who runs it is a Canadian, so I figured at least I’d have that in common with him. He’s a lay person who is a convert and wants to explain Catholicism to people who are interested – and from what I could tell, that usually meant hostile Protestants!

  It was laid out really well, with all the good, juicy subjects there for the picking – so many, in fact, that I ignored Mary and jumped on a somewhat obscure one – Replacement Theology.

  Unfortunately, Sue, I was surprised to find that I sort of, somewhat, kind of, didn’t totally disagree with what the guy wrote. So I picked another, with the same result. Then another. For the rest of the evening, I may not have totally agreed with what I was reading on subject after subject, but once I was filled in on what they actually believe and practice, (as opposed to what I had always assumed they believed and practiced), I had to admit that there would be no poison pill that night.

  Sue, I think you can see where this is going. I’ll skip all the lectures, debates and shows that I’ve watched, the articles I’ve read, and the all the discussions I’ve had with my two workmates over the spring and summer. Try as I might, (and as crazy as this sounds), not only could I not find my poison pill, but I was beginning to see how the whole thing fit together – and it fit together beautifully.

So, (after much contemplation and prayer), I have decided to become Catholic.

Sister? You ok? Have a sip of tea. I can explain.

  I can explain – but I won’t be discussing any points of theology, as that can be done by simply visiting the website I mentioned earlier, (catholic bridge), or a much better one, Catholic Answers. An explanation of doctrine can be done by them.

  There are two people in particular who were very influential in my decision – Dr. Scott Hahn, (former Presbyterian), and Steve Ray, (former evangelical.) Their stuff is all over the Internet, and if you want an insight into why I’ve gone this route, their testimonies, lectures, debates and interviews would go a long way in shedding light on my decision.

   Also, The Journey Home, (YouTube), also played a large part. Converts discuss how they made their way to the Church, from atheism, Islam, evangelical Protestantism – you name it. You won’t agree with their final destination, but at least you’d understand how they got there.

  How I got there mirrors many of the guests on that show. Something makes them curious, so they ask questions. They get answers that make sense, so they ask more questions, get more answers, and finally they read the Early Church Fathers. Then they join the Church. That seems to be the pattern.

  I found the most interesting shows to be the ones that involved evangelical missionaries or pastors, because of their theological training, and deep, deep distrust, (or outright hostility), to Catholicism. And then to watch their antipathy vanish into the air was fascinating stuff.

   Sister, I simply wanted to find the path, (no matter how roundabout), that was best for me, regardless of the outcome. And believe me, (like guests on the Journey Home), this is the last place I thought I’d end up.

Best wishes to all and God Bless,

New Convert  :-) happy

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Are the Books of the New Testament “Self-Authenticating” or was the Catholic Church Necessary to Define the Canon of Scripture?

By Steve Ray

Hello Protestant Friend:

I was very happy to receive your twenty-five-page letter which claimed that sola Scriptura (Bible alone) and sola fide (faith alone) were the faith and teaching of the Apostles. I found your reasoning very weak (sorry to say) and since I once believed these false doctrines myself I thought I ought to respond to your misconceptions. I have no animosity toward you for your views; in fact; I love you for taking the time to express your theology and I love you for your sincere faith in our Lord Jesus. Having once held these views myself, I know that they can be held in good faith and I assume that is the case with you.

Since this letter became longer than I originally expected, I decided to add an outline to help you understand the flow of my discussion. So, here it goes.

  1. Our Recent Discussions
    1. Intro: Self-authentication of Biblical Documents
    2. Federal Rules for Self-authenticating Documents
    3. Correct Criterion vs. Circular Reasoning
    4. The Early Church and the New Testament Documents
    5. The Reformation and the Canon
    6. A Fallible Collection of Infallible Books
  1. Your Letter: Especially on Inspiration, Scripture, and sola Scriptura
    1. 2 Timothy 3:15, 16: A Basis for the Canon of the New Testament?
      1. Old Testament or New Testament
      2. Anarthrous Construction and Warfield
      3. Correct Translation of the Greek Text
      4. Universal Negative: Nothing else is Inspired or Infallible
    2. 2 Peter 3:16: Substantive Proof of the New Testament Canon?
    3. 1 Timothy 5:18 & Luke 10:7: Substantive Proof of the New Testament Canon?
    4. Summary using Norman Geisler’s Syllogism
    5. Catholic Teaching in a Nutshell
  1. Miscellaneous Comments from Your Letter
    1. Augustine, Calvin, and the Councils
    2. The Noble-minded Bereans and Sola Scriptura
    3. Is the Catholic Church “Co-equal” with the Sacred Writings
    4. Can Catholics Interpret the Bible?
  1. Sign-off and Finger-resting
  1. Our Recent Discussions
  1. Intro: Self-authentication of the Biblical Documents

Anyway, to get serious, when we talked about the authentication of the sacred books contained in our Bible, you mentioned legal precedent for documents that were “self-authenticating.” In other words, as I understood it, there was no need for anyone (including individuals, authorities, councils, apostolic successors, etc.) to make such a determination as to which books were infallible, inspired, and canonical, since they were self-authenticating and could be discovered, but not determined. This is Norman Geisler’s view as well (Endnote 1) Whew! I hope that mouthful made sense.

You also said that the reason it took so long to discover the collected canon was due to the condition of man. If you don’t mind, and in the spirit of friendship and combativeness we have always had together and thoroughly enjoyed I will continue our tradition and take another salvo in this letter. I don’t have any Norman blood, but I do have French [passion], and German [precision and belligerence], and Irish [feisty], and English [verbose] blood in me. So, don’t blame me, blame it on my genes.

  1. Federal Rules for Self-authenticating Documents

I am of the opinion that the sacred writings were not, and are not self-authenticating. I don’t mean they are devoid of divine authorship, nor that they are without the divine imprint. I only mean that internal and external evidence alone is not enough to clearly and definitively establish them as inspired, authoritative, and infallible. Since you mentioned it, I looked up the legal guidelines on the matter of self-authentication in the Federal Rules (U.S. Code Title 18 Crimes and Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules no. 902) (Endnote 2). This is the section, as you well know, of Self-Authentication. The reason I looked this up is simple: you stopped me in my tracks when you mentioned this, not because I questioned the validity of my objection to self-authentication, but because I was not knowledgeable about the evidentiary rules.

For the whole long and detailed argument, click here.

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Sherlock Holmes an Idolater – Praying to People?

by Steve Ray on January 7, 2019

Last night my wife and I were watching an episode of Sherlock Holmes on TV. He has always been one of my favorite characters and I can remember reading all the stories to our kids as they grew up. On TV I think Jeremy Brett does the best portrayal and it is always a delightful evening to cuddle up and watch another episode.

Last night we were watching “The Copper Beeches” and Sherlock was interviewing a young lady. Her case bored him. But as her story developed, Sherlock became intrigued. He leaned back and said, “Pray, continue.” 

SherlockPrays.jpgMy wife hit the pause button! “What did he say?” We listened again. Sure enough, the Great Sherlock used the word pray when talking to a woman.

But doesn’t “pray” mean worship? In our old Evangelical Protestant days we assumed PRAY was synonymous with WORSHIP. But that was because we were ignorant of our own English language (blame the public schools). 

In the English language, the word pray is much less ostentatious than we Evangelicals blew it up to be. Here is what Wiktionary says,  

1. To petition or solicit help from a supernatural or higher being.
2. To humbly beg a person for aid or their time.
3. (Christianity) to talk to God for any reason.

The least significant usage of the word is to “talk to God” which is still a far cry from falling on one’s face in adoration and worship—an action reserved for the Trinity alone. 

It primarily means to ask of a higher being—which could certainly mean a superior in business, or law or in heaven—for a favor or for their help. It means to ask any person for aid or for their time.  

What was Sherlock Holmes asking when he “prayed” to this woman? He was saying, “Please, I ask you to continue.” Did he worship the woman? Of course not. 

But if we earthy humans ask the assistance and intercession of those who have preceded us to heaven, are we worshiping them or somehow giving them glory that belongs to God alone? CommunionofSaints.jpg

Well let’s ask this—if I ask my brother or sister in Christ on earth to “pray” for me, am I taking away from the glory of God by “praying” or asking them to “pray” or ask God to help me? Of course not, because prayer (talking and asking) and worship are two very different things. 

If I ask a saint who is already in heaven to petition God for me, am I committing idolatry? What foolishness, or course not. I am simply acknowledging that I am not the only Christian in the universe and that the Church is not just made up of me or many earthlings.

Christians, such as Mary and the Apostles, are not dead and gone. They are very much alive before the throne of God. It is made up of all of us still waiting for heaven, but it is also made up of those who have gone on before us with the sign of faith.

You may get asked, “Where in the Bible does it say we should pray to dead saints?” And my answer is always the same, “Where does the Bible say that saints are dead? We Catholic believe in Eternal Life!” 

Again, it is the Evangelical who not only misunderstands spiritual things, but also the English language. I was the most guilty of all, but I had ears to hear (thanks be to God) and I now understand the cosmic reality of the Church and the Communion of Saints. I am much the richer for it. 

Like Sherlock, I can pray to or ask any human creature for information or intercession or help. But it is God alone that I worship. I will ask or pray to any of his people, on earth or in heaven—asking them to intercede or pray for me to the Lord our God. We are after all a big family and the God whom we worship is the Father of us all.

I am so glad I found the Catholic Church and escaped the muddle of mucked up ideas I used to call “Bible-only Christianity.”

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Mass with 2 Protestants and 1 Crucifix

January 5, 2019

A while ago we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, as big as life — a CRUCIFIX with the Body of Our Lord hanging over the altar. I knew what the Protestants were thinking — I used to think the same — “CATHOLICS ARE WRONG, JESUS IS […]

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What to Think About Bad Popes

January 2, 2019

Written by Dave Armstrong and used with permission: BAD POPES: REPLIES TO A SINCERE INQUIRER, by Dave Armstrong God made an everlasting covenant with King David, even though he was an adulterer and murderer. Dave writes: “As this was originally private correspondence, my correspondent’s exact words will be paraphrased, not cited. Her “words” will be […]

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“Call No Man Your Father”

December 29, 2018

“Call No Man Your Father” By Steve Ray I received several questions recently and will post my answers separately over the next few days. Here is the first question which I received and answered. 1.) In Matthew 23:9 Jesus says: ” And call no man your father upon earth: for one is your Father which […]

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Jesus Was A Jew and Why You Can’t Understand the Bible without Knowing That

December 28, 2018

Since we are at the Western Wall today, where the Temple stood in Jesus’ day, it is appropriate to discuss this. Jesus loved the Jewish Temple and called it his Father’s house. ************************************************ Jesus was a Jew. This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus […]

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Christmas – when even Protestants put up Statues!

December 20, 2018

Christmas is that magical time of year when Protestants don’t have a problem with statues of Jesus, Mary, Saints and Angels! Isn’t that lovely (and inconsistent)?

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Is the Mass a Sacrifice?

December 6, 2018

St. Paul mentions three sacrifices in 1 Corinthians 10:15-21 (see below). He compares the Sacrifice at the Mass with the sacrifice of the Jews and of the pagans. He even uses the phrase “table of the Lord” which is a technical term for an altar of sacrifice in the Old Testament (Malachi 1:7, 12). The […]

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2 Minute Audios: Steve’s 6 Rules for Dealing with Non-Catholic Family & Friends

November 30, 2018

People always ask, “What do I say to my husband…?”  or “How do I get my kids back in the Church?  or  “I am getting no where trying to tell my friend about my Faith.” Well Steve came up with Six Rules to help you deal with non-Catholics – especially family and friends. They are […]

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“Ancient Baptists” and Other Myths

November 27, 2018

“Ancient Baptists” and Other Myths Fr. Hugh Barbour, O.Praem. Nicea, August 24, A.D. 325, 7:41 p.m. “That was powerful preaching, Brother Athanasius. Powerful! Amen! I want to invite any of you folks in the back to approach the altar here and receive the Lord into your hearts. Just come on up. We’ve got brothers and […]

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Trail of Blood: Do Baptists Have a Claim to the Original Church?

November 26, 2018

What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct? There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the true Christians — the Baptists — leaving […]

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13 Major Differences between Catholics & Protestants

November 23, 2018

Defending the Fullness of the Faith:  13 Major Differences between Catholics & Protestants By Steve Ray Set of 4 audio CDs     Click here In this exciting series, you will be given the perfect apologetic primer to better understand and defend the Catholic Faith. Stephen Ray, a former Evangelical Protestant and Bible teacher, highlights the thirteen major issues […]

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The Bible out of Context: “Saved by Faith Alone”?

November 13, 2018

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it. or put otherwise, A text without a context is a pretext. I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and […]

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What Great Faith You Must Have to be an ATHEIST!

November 9, 2018

From my friend Bill: 1) Billions of years ago, there just happened to exist these abstract “somethings” 2) Which just happened to be atoms 3) Which just happened to get together 4) In ways which just happened to look like natural laws 5) That some of these configurations of atoms just happened to develop into […]

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Is ‘Dogma’ an Oppressive Catholic Word? – Steve Ray

November 2, 2018

Is ‘Dogma’ an Oppressive Catholic Word? – Steve Ray “When I was an Evangelical Protestant, I thought dogma was a dirty word. It had bad connotations. It represented unbiblical teaching forced down people’s throats by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. They invented new doctrines not found in the Bible and then called them dogmas […]

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