Typical evangelistic arguments
mjagg@..., a user from metacrawler.com, asked this question on 10/17/2000:
I am a cradle Catholic who was never confirmed and is recently returning to the church after many years of being away. I didn't leave the church to join a protestant church, I left it when I was a young boy simply because my parents stopped going to church for some reason. I've not been affiliated with any church at all for the past 15 years or so.
I have a very good friend who is a protestant. A very devout protestant. He is a good man who loves God and truly lives a good life. He's not the pushy, "bible thumping" (please excuse this term if it offends anyone) type of protestant that tries to shove his faith down your throat like so many others, but he is more than willing to witness to anyone who expresses interest.
Since he has learned that I've returned to the Catholic Church, he has been talking with me a lot and asking me questions regarding the Catholic Faith. As with many other protestants, he is a bit anti-catholic and I can tell that he doesn't approve of my affiliation with the church.
Since I'm a bit new to the faith, I'm having a hard time defending it against his questions.
For instance, he asked why Catholics pray to saints rather than directly to God. I tried to tell him that Catholics pray to the saints for intercession with God and that Catholics do indeed pray directly to God. I told him that it is no different then asking a close friend to pray for you. But he keeps coming back with answers to every answer I give him. I don't know what else to tell him or how else to defend the faith here.
Tonight he asked me what the Church teaches about forgiveness of sins, and he asked how Catholics expect a priest to forgive sins when only God alone can forgive sins. I tried to explain the best I could, but he had an answer for everything I said.
Like I said before, he's not the belligerent, in your face type, and he's always very gentle with his delivery. But he makes it clear that he's against the Church.
I'm not trying to say that this has caused me to question my newly developing faith in the Catholic Church, but I have to admit that it is a bit troubling. I want to be able to defend the faith, because I feel like when I can't defend it, it makes it look like the protestant view is the correct view. I know that every question I've had about the Catholic faith has been answered satisfactorily, I just need to know what to do when I'm questioned like this and don't quite have the knowledge to back up what I believe or why I believe it.
Thank you for your help,
God Bless you,
The joy of the Lord be in your heart.
Congratulation for finding your way back to THE Church. You embrace the whole doctrine, liturgy and life that the Church can transmit you. As for defending your faith I think you should foremost confess it. You be witness of your faith and before your friend state with firmness: "I believe..."
One of the oldest documents after the Gospels, the Didache, explains that in everything there is God. So He wants to give you something by the way of your protestant friend. His questioning points in the typical directions of our separated brethren. It would help to know what denomination he is frequenting. You can understand his basic tenets and you can even know how he will react to the different teachings of the Church.
His problem is that of all evangelists. He has to jump an enormous abysm, 1500 years. As if God had abandoned His Church and only with Martin Luther has founded the real Church… Well, the community of your friend's is at most 500 years old. So he stands only on one leg: Scripture. The Catholic Church has two legs to stand on: Scripture and Tradition. Tradition as the uninterrupted Christian celebration and teaching of Christ's Salvation from the beginnings (Christ's and His Apostles') until today. It's the same Church.
Now read this (John 21:25):"Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." The Church has conserved and transmitted many of them. Even the written Gospels were first oral tradition before they were written down.
So if confession is taught from the beginning as the right interpretation of John 20 "21 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 if you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven", and Martin Luther has thrown it out together with other sacraments what guarantee is there that your friend is right?
You see it's basically the problem that the Protestants have to be against the Church because they can't accept tradition. They do a nice thing standing on one leg. But someone must have erred.
But again. With your protestant friend you can go on throwing Bible verses at each other. It's to no avail. You confess your faith, the faith of the Church.
You can buy the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You can use it to give answers to anything he asks. At the back of the book there is an index with key words as to find easily the material you are talking about. Perhaps you could suggest that he reads first the Catechism before questioning. It would have a better base of information. Perhaps it will be the first time he hears some real information.
So keep up the good work.
God bless you