Apologetics for the Masses: Issue #3

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Sorry for the delay in getting this issue out…things have been crazy here in the office the last few weeks. I will not necessarily get out 2 issues each month, but I plan on averaging 2 issues a month. In October, I hope to get 3 out…I just ask your patience as I get into the flow of doing this newsletter.

As always, please feel free to forward this email and to let folks know that they can sign up for it at biblechristiansociety.com. And, if you haven’t checked out the free apologetics tapes and CDs at the website, please do so.

My comments are in regular font, the comments of those writing to me are in italics.


Anyway, this is continuing my email exchange with Phil, who has recently left the Catholic Church. Here he is replying to my responses from Issue 2 (which you can read on the “Newsletter” page of the website: biblechristiansociety.com).

Phil sent me 2 or 3 emails in a row before I had a chance to respond to any of them, so these next couple of issues will be my responses to those emails. And, yes, he finally did answer some of my questions. You’ll see his answers in the next newsletter, which I hope to get out next week.


Hi John,

Oh yes, I fully see why you’re frustrated too. Also, I do not think you’re disrespectful (although that’s what I got from some of the softball team). I fully accept that you think something different than me. I know where you come from - I was Catholic for decades.

Dear Phil,

Catholics interpret the Bible, all of the Bible, in a “literal” manner. By that I mean that when we read a passage, we look for the meaning the writer of that passage intended to convey. For example, let’s take the phrase, “It was raining cats and dogs.” The literal meaning is that it was raining very hard. That’s the meaning the writer was trying to convey. Many fundamentalists, evangelicals, non-denominationalists, etc. interpret the Bible in a "literalist " manner. They would interpret the phrase, “It was raining cats and dogs,” if it was in the Bible, as some phenomenon where cats and dogs were falling from the sky like rain. So, you are correct, there are passages where folks are speaking literally, and there are passages where folks are speaking metaphorically and we need to determine which is which in order to properly understand the Scriptures. My question to you is: Why do you get to decide which is which? Why do you get to say that in John 6, Jesus was speaking metaphorically or symbolically, when I say he wasn’t? Is there no way to determine truth in this matter? Why does your opinion carry more weight than my opinion? Than the Church’s opinion? Than the opinion of billions of Catholics over 2000 years? Than the opinion of the early Christians and the Church Fathers?

Strategies and Tactics:First thing to note, is that even though I was very direct with him (Issue 2) about being frustrated with his lack of response to my questions, he wasn’t angry or upset with me. I quite often catch flak from folks who say I’m too combative or not nice enough or some such thing. Sorry, but I find nothing wrong with being direct and to the point. I was frustrated with him, and I simply told him so. As long as you’re not ugly about it or uncharitable, I see nothing wrong with being direct with someone.

There are some things in the bible that seem to back up what Catholics believe. Jesus called us “sheep”. He didn’t mean it literally, just like I don’t think he meant it literally when he said to eat my body and drink my blood.

So, what was the author of John 6 trying to tell us? Was Jesus speaking literally or metaphorically when He said to eat His body and drink His blood? Well, let’s look at the evidence. If Jesus was speaking symbolically, then please tell me what He meant by saying one must eat His body and drink His blood to have eternal life. A symbolic interpretation of these passages, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Plus, if Jesus was speaking symbolically, why did everyone who heard Him speak on that day, the Jews, His disciples…even the Apostles…take Him literally? Why do you, 2000 years after the fact, not take Him literally when everyone who heard him on that day did?

And, if Jesus was speaking symbolically, why did His disciples say it was a “hard teaching?” Do you have the “Lord’s Supper” in whatever church you now attend? If so, is symbolically eating Jesus’ body and symbolically drinking His blood by eating a piece of bread and drinking some grape juice…do you consider that a “hard teaching” as you are saying the disciples apparently did?

Plus, Jesus repeats Himself over and over here saying the same thing. Why didn’t He explain to His disciples that they misunderstood Him (if they did misunderstand Him)? Every other passage in Scripture (every one!) where the disciples don’t understand something He says, He takes them aside and explains it to them. But not here. Why? Because maybe they didn’t misunderstand Him?

And, very important to consider is this: in verse 51, Jesus says He is the “living bread which came down from heaven” and “if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” Now, what exactly is this bread that folks must eat? Well, Jesus tells us in the last part of verse 51, “and the bread that I shall give for the life of the world is My FLESH.” Was He speaking symbolically here? When did Jesus give His flesh for the life of the world? On the cross, right? So, is Jesus speaking symbolically here in verse 51? Is He telling us to eat His symbolic flesh that He will give for the life of the world? If that’s your interpretation, then Jesus only gave His symbolic flesh for us on the cross, not His real flesh…according to your interpretation.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve asked a bunch of questions that you are going to have a tough time answering in a consistent and logical manner. So, just from the Bible…forget about what Christians from the 1st century on have said…just from the Bible, there is ample evidence to show that Jesus was speaking literally in John 6 about eating His body and drinking His blood. Please give me the evidence, from the Bible, to show that He wasn’t speaking literally. With all due respect, your opinion, or the opinion of those who have taught you these things, doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m sorry, Phil, but the biblical evidence for the Catholic belief on this point is overwhelming. Please read these passages carefully. I’m not asking you to take my opinion, I’m asking you to look carefully at the Word of God and not just gloss over it.

Strategies and Tactics:Phil is responding to something I said in a previous email about John 6 and the fact that Catholics do exactly as Jesus says, eat His body and drink His blood. I took off on this because, from the Bible alone, he has pretty much no argument to support his position while Catholics have an incredibly strong and direct argument to support our beliefs. If he believes in going by the Bible alone, then he needs to answer these arguments, from the Bible. If he responds to these arguments, I guarantee that his response is not going to make much sense, biblically speaking.

Also, the reason I spent so much time on the Eucharist, is because I want to set the tone. I want him to discuss the topics I choose to discuss. I don’t want to just be on the defensive answering his arguments. I want him to have to confront the lack of depth in his theology, and I can’t do that by just answering his questions, I have to ask a few of my own. Sometimes you can ignore what they are saying altogether and simply ask what you want to ask…that can tend to catch them off guard. They are very good at asking questions, but they are not so practiced at answering questions. And, they generally do not expect to have to defend their theology in a rational and consistent manner. Again, be offensive (aw-fensive) without being offensive (uh-fensive). Ask questions.

I said “in my opinion” because I have not talked to God so I don’t have all the definitive answers. All I can do is the read the bible and decide “in my opinion” who’s right, because it’s not both Catholics and Protestants who are right.

“All I can do is read the bible and decide ‘in my opinion’ who’s right.” Isn’t that pretty scary? You are gambling your salvation on whether or not you have interpreted the Bible correctly? Is that what the Bible says to do? How do you know you’re not one of those Peter is talking about in 2 Peter 3:16 when he says, “There are some things in them [Paul’s letter’s], which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.” Peter says there are ignorant, or unlearned, folks out there interpreting scripture in such a way that it leads to their own destruction. Doesn’t that give you pause? How do you know you’re not one of those he’s talking about? And, where does the Bible say that each individual, reading the Bible on their own, has the authority to decide true and false doctrine? Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” And, Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes…”

How does the Bible say we are to decide the “spirit of truth” and the “spirit of error”? Do you know? Is it by individually reading scripture? No! 1 John 4:6 tells us how we are to discern the spirit of truth from the spirit of error…by listening to the leaders of the Church. “We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

Again, I don’t mean to offend, but you have started down a path of individual interpretation…deciding for yourself what is right and wrong…which Scripture very clearly tells us can lead to some very serious and unpleasant consequences.

Strategies and Tactics:Phil basically states that he is the Pope for his own little religion. It’s all up to him to decide, by reading the Bible, what is right and what is wrong. I just want to make him think about how dangerous that could be in terms of his personal salvation, and how un-biblical it is. He has been given the idea that the Catholic religion is unbiblical and that he now has the right biblical thinking. My task is to show him that just the opposite is true, that he has actually abandoned solid scriptural teachings for a pack of lies.

I did more than say that there are some uninformed Catholics. I also said the popes are uninformed and make bad decisions, and I think I proved it “in my opinion”.

The popes have made bad decisions. I readily admit that. Again, though, for someone who was Catholic for so long, you seem to have a very confused understanding of basic Catholic teachings. The popes are not perfect. They do make mistakes. They do sin. However, the doctrine of infallibility states that when a pope speaks as the head of the Church, to the entire Church, in the areas of faith and morals, he cannot teach error.

Strategies and Tactics:Again, I respond to one of his comments about the popes making mistakes. In spite of what I say to him, he still does not understand the Church’s teaching on infallibility. So, again, I repeat myself in the hope that it might finally click with him, and I let him know that he is just flat out wrong in what he believes about this.

I listed 10-12 verses that said we’re saved by faith alone. Should I send them again?

I must have missed those 10-12 verses, please do send them again.

Here’s a book I found online:{note to the reader: The rest of Phil’s email is simply a list from this book written by ex-priests or folks who claim to be ex-priests. It’s not necessary to read, but I wanted to keep it in for reasons I’ll explain below in the “Strategies” section.}

Title: Far From Rome; Near to God
This book contains the moving testimonies of fifty priests who found their way by the grace of God out of the labyrinth of Roman Catholic theology and practice into the light of the gospel of Christ.

From the Back Cover:
This is not a narrowly polemical work, nor is its relevance limited to the ongoing controversy between Rome and the churches of the Reformation. The love and concern felt by the former priests for those they left behind, and their fervent desire that they too should experience the joy and peace of salvation in Christ are seen throughout. The wider relevance of the experiences described will also be felt in many contexts remote from Roman Catholicism where human pride and presumption have erected rival sources of authority between people and the Word of God, so obscuring the way of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone.

Author: Richard Bennett is the Director of Berean Beacon, based in Portland, Oregon, USA. Martin Buckingham is the Director of The Converted Catholic Mission in Leicester, UK.

Table of Contents (50 chapters):

Henry Gregory Adams: Christ Alone Is the Way
Joseph Tremblay: A Priest, but a Stranger to God
Bartholomew F. Brewer: Pilgrimage from Rome
Hugh Farrell: From Friar to Freedom in Christ
Robert V. Julien: Saved by the Free Grace of God
Alexander Carson: Free Indeed
Charles Berry: A Priest Asks God for Grace

Bob Bush: Once a Jesuit, Now a Child of God
Cipriano Valdes Jaimes: An Irresistible Call
Dario A. Santamaria: Yesterday, a Priest-Today, a Missionary
Miguel Carvajal: Why I Left the Monastery
Anibal Pereira Dos Reis: If I Had Stayed in Roman Catholicism, I Would Not Have Found Jesus

Arnaldo Uchoa Cavalcante: Grace and Truth Came to Me by Jesus Christ
Thoufic Khouri: The Gospel of Grace in Jesus Christ
Victor J. Affonso: Following Jesus Without Compromise
Simon Kottoor: There is Power in Christ’s Atoning Blood
Jos? Borras: From the Monastery to the Ministry

Enrique Fernandez: I Discovered the Word of God
Francisco Lacueva: My ‘Damascus Road’
Juan T. Sanz: ‘Thou Knowest That I Love Thee’
Celso Mu?iz: The Professor’s Methods Did Not Work
Manuel Garrido Aldama: From Roman Priest to Radio Evangelist
Jos? Manuel de Le?n: Jesus Saved Even Me

Jos? A. Fernandez: I Was Blind, Now I See
Jos? Rico: Life Begins for a Jesuit Priest
Mark Pe?a: The Lord Became My Righteousness
Luis Padrosa: Twenty-Three Years in the Jesuit Order
Joseph Zacchello: I Could Not Serve Two Masters
Joseph Lulich: The Word of God Came to My Rescue
Mariano Rughi: Living Water—Peace with God
John Zanon: I Found Christ the Only Mediator

John Preston: From Works to the Light of the Gospel
Guido Scalzi: My Encounter with God
Benigno Zuniga: Transformed by Christ
Bruno Bottesin: I Was Not Antagonistic to the Truth
Renato di Lorenzo: A Monk for Twenty Years, Then Born Again
Franco Maggiotto: Saved while Officiating at Mass
Eduardo Labanchi: I Received Mercy
Anthony Pezzotta: I Found Everything When I Found Christ
Salvatore Gargiulo: I Was a Blind Leader of the Blind

Carlo Fumagalli: From Death to Life
Gregor Dalliard: Not Ashamed of Christ
Toon Vanhuysse: The Truth Set Me Free
Herman Hegger: Light and Life in Christ
J. M. A. Hendriksen: From Priest to Preacher
Jacob Van der Velden: God’s Grace in New Guinea
Charles A. Bolton: My Path into Christ’s Joy
Leo Lehmann: The Soul of a Priest
Vincent O’ Shaughnessy: From Dead Religion to New Life in Christ
Richard Peter Bennett: From Tradition to Truth


I can match your book or books with any number of books from folks who have converted from pretty much every Protestant denomination to the Catholic Church. A lot of these folks who have left the Church are like you, though. They seem to not understand the Catholic teaching that they profess to have believed. If anyone wants to disagree with what I believe…fine. But, disagree with what I really believe. That’s all I ask.

Strategies and Tactics:Now, regarding his list of books. Do you see what he’s doing? He’s throwing out a group of ex-priests, or those who profess to be ex-priests, and he’s offering them up as authorities. He’s trying to take me away from the Bible. So, I don’t even go there. I simply discredit them by saying that a lot of these folks are undoubtedly just like him in that they profess to have believed Catholic teaching, but, somehow, they don’t seem to understand Catholic teaching. Don’t ever get caught up in a discussion about books by ex-priests or anything of that nature…it will get you nowhere.

In Conclusion

Again, I hope to have the next issue out sometime next week. Please help me out by forwarding this newsletter to others and letting them know how to sign up for it and about the free apologetics tapes and CDs at the website (biblechristiansociety.com).

And, as always, I’m open to hearing your feedback (positive or negative) on how I could improve this newsletter. This is my first time to do anything like this, and I want to do it in such a way as to maximize its usefulness to you.

God bless!


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