Some people mistakenly believe that Catholics elevate the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the status of the Bible. Others believe the Catechism is meant to explain the supposedly unbiblical teachings of the Church. Both views hold that the Catechism is essentially unnecessary “extra stuff.” In their view, all one needs is the Bible itself to know and understand the word of God. How can we Catholics respond to this?
It’s not uncommon to encounter the random street preacher who asks the question, “Are you saved?” He may follow up by asking, “Are you certain?” In fact, my Evangelical Christian friends have asked me this many times.
These questions find their purpose in the belief of most Evangelicals that once you have accepted Jesus as your personal Savior you can be assured of your own salvation. This is not compatible with Catholic teaching.
The Catholic Answers tract on salvation offers a fine response to the question:
“Are you saved?” asks the Fundamentalist. The Catholic should reply: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).”
The above is wholly adequate given the opportunity to elaborate on the answer, but I use a different approach in face-to-face situations where my time is limited.
Last week a gentleman who declared himself a Sedevacantist contacted me via email in an attempt to persuade me to his position. For those of you who are unaware of what a Sedevacantist is, it is essentially the belief that the current occupant of the Chair of Peter is not truly pope.
I have read several books on the subject, both pro and con, and while I do not consider myself an expert on the issue, I find most Sedevacantist arguments interesting but ultimately unconvincing.
The argument this particular gentleman was making involved his objection to Church teaching on baptism of desire, which he claims is “the very heresy which gave rise to false ecumenism and the Vatican II sect in the first place.”
The belief that Halloween is pagan in origin is a myth. Many neo-pagan websites claim that it was an attempt by early Christians to “baptize” the Gaelic harvest festival of Samhain. Because of this persistent myth, some Christians are hesitant to participate in anything associated with Halloween. Brad Winsted of the Christian Broadcasting Network explains:
Even a cursory look at the origins of Halloween will reveal satanic rituals played out in trick and treating, jack-o-lanterns, witches, ghosts, the dead, and on and on. If you’ve ever taken time to research any of these Halloween practices you’ll see the satanic background from the Celtic tribes of Scotland and Ireland.
Like other claims that Catholicism adopted pagan practices and beliefs, this myth is also based on bad research and propaganda that developed after the Protestant Reformation. Given the contempt of the reformers for the Catholic doctrine of purgatory and prayers for the dead, this development is not surprising.
The desire of Christians to distance themselves from anything pagan is something that can be seen in documents dating all the way back to the New Testament. It should not come as a surprise that even in our own time Christians are cautious to adopt elements of pagan ritual. But do we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater?
There is a phenomenon that occurs sometimes in apologetics where the answer to a particular question will be met with a response from other Catholics asking why the apologist bothered to answer it in the first place. Someone may say, “Why are you giving this person a platform by responding?” or “This objection is so ridiculous it is not worthy of a response!”
I am met with these reactions often, especially when I write on the subject of mythicism (the belief that a historical Jesus never existed), but it happens in reaction to other apologetic arguments as well.
I sympathize with people who respond this way, and in the spirit of my blog post title, I think their questions also deserve a response.
Every objection to the Catholic Faith deserves an answer, and I have what I think are three very good reasons for leaving no stone unturned: